Shut Up and Listen to Kvaen This Instant, You Maniacs

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Maybe you’re at home. Maybe you’re taking a dump and reading metal blogs on your phone. Maybe you like to live dangerously and are dicking around on your work computer. It doesn’t matter. Whatever you’re doing, you need to cease that shit immediately and put on Funeral Pyre by Kvaen. This is the most important thing you’ll do today.

When I asked resident black metal enthusiast Black Metal Porkins to find me some BM that I didn’t hate, this was his first suggestion. It worked. There’s no other way to put it: Funeral Pyre fucking rules.

This debut album from Swedish musician Jakob Björnfot combines the best elements of black metal, thrash, and Viking metal in a mighty stew brimming with exciting riffs and dynamic songwriting. It’s not enough to say that there isn’t a bad song on the album, because every song here is great or better. If you’d told me before listening that this was a best-of compilation, I would absolutely believe it.

Primarily a one-man affair, Kvaen features Björnfot on vocals, guitar, bass, and keyboard. The remaining parts were handled by a series of guest musicians, most notably a ripping solo by Sebastian Ramstedt (Necrophobic, ex-Nifelheim) on the title track. No fewer than four guests handled the drums, and the tracks show a corresponding breadth of drum styles ranging from particularly black metal blasting and double bass work, to swinging hard rock, to nimble thrash patterns reminiscent of Kreator‘s Ventor.

More importantly, Björnfot is a fucking riff machine. No two songs on the album sound entirely alike melodically, almost entirely due to his range on guitar and bass. From thrash to black metal, the guy can really do it all. It’s 2020, and we’re living in Björnfot’s world now.

On each re-listen I find something new to enjoy, from thrashing opener “Revenge by Fire” to epic, melodic closer “Hymn to Kvaenland.” There’s a lot more to say about Funeral Pyre, but the music stands on its own enough that I won’t linger. How do you improve on perfection? Stop reading this article and go listen to Kvaen until your fucking ears fall off. Now.

Five out ov Five Flaming Toilets

Funeral Pyre is out this Friday on Black Lion Records. You can pick up a copy over at Bandcamp.

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