Written by: EW on 10/12/2008 20:09:40

Another day, another Scandinavian folk influenced black metal band working for their place in Valhalla. Åsmegin, of Jevnaker, Norway, have already been in existence for 10 years but are here with just album no. 2, "Arv", bringing forth a style picking up bits of Falkenbach, Tyr, Thyrfing and Primordial on the way to producing what is a difficult album to really get into.

"Arv" (translated as 'heritage') is loosely based on Scandinavian folk sounds explored so thoroughly by countless others the last few years with the addition of a standard rock beats, some polka feeling at times as well as, curiously, a jazzy feel to closing track "En Myrmylne". If it feels like your brain is struggling to accept the integration of so many disparate styles, fear not as this is the over-riding criticism of "Arv". Åsmegin have tampered with the boundaries of folk-influenced extreme metal to produce an album that is arguably not 'extreme', this being no problem for me, but one lacking in flow and user-friendliness, a commodity required in music however un-user-friendly the artist would like to be. Faroese pagan-purveyors Tyr stand as testament to this, both through the similarity of tracks like "Fandens Mælkebøtte" with their staccato tempos used to create a more tranquil and epic landscape than say, Moonsorrow, and the mid-paced nature of proceedings. Never being one to give up easily however on albums that dare to be different I have given "Arv" the benefit of repeated listens and levels of enjoyment have increased over time but the obtrusive nature of songs like "Gengangeren" is paramount to the restricted pleasure I am getting from this album.

It could be said that each song represents a different influence or similarity, making my job as a reviewer hard to pick an exact dimension within which to place Åsmegin. "Yndifall" begins and concludes with a bass-led riff so Primordial I, of course, love it; "Generalen Og Troldharen" proclaims a rough around the edges Isengard feel; while the clean female vocals, which are used heavily in "Prunkende, Stolt I Jokumsol" and "Hiertebrand" exist as an antithesis to the dominating gruff male grunts, scream out Christina Scabbia, aka Lacuna Coil. Streamlining would be the name of the game here as segments of "Arv" possess a serene idyllic feel, somewhat akin to the album's cover, that with refinement could see greater success for Åsmegin with "Arv". Tentatively giving this album a middle level mark however, it is one that could potentially increase over time as "Arv" is a difficult listen but with patience does offer the listener treats in it's carefully structured passages of melancholic pagan prose.

Download: Yndifall, Prunkende, Stolt I Jokumsol
For The Fans Of: Tyr, Falkenbach, Turisas
Listen: Myspace
Buy: iTunes

Release date 28.11.08
Napalm Records

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