Afsky

Ofte Jeg Drømmer Mig Død

Written by: RUB on 18/01/2021 12:34:32

In recent years, Denmark has seen a long due rise in diversity when it comes to metal. It is no longer just the Danish death metal sound this country is revered for, but also various other aspects of the extreme metal scene. The rise of Danish black metal, for instance, is still very much an ongoing process, with several nationally renowned newer bands such as ORM, Sunken and MØL just beginning to earn noticeable international attention, with the latter having even been picked up by the mighty Nuclear Blast recently. One of the torchbearers of the genre in the last decade or so has been Solbrud, led by the highly talented Ole Pedersen Luk, and last year he was at it once again with his solo project Afsky (which translates to disgust) and the difficult second album from that project, “Ofte jeg drømmer mig død” (Often I dream myself dead), the title of which is derived from the third song on it, “Imperia”.

Judging by the title alone, it should not come as a surprise that we are dealing with the familiar themes of grief and sadness that are often explored in atmospheric black metal. It is very important to note the cover of the album, which actually depicts the Danish national treasure of H. A. Brendekilde’s work “Udslidt” (“Worn out”) from 1889 and plays into the aforementioned themes of grief, as well as anguish and despair that tend to comprise Luk’s lyricism. The artwork and themes of the album complement each other well, bringing the sorrowful nature of the music to new heights. This is audible when the first track “Altid veltilfreds” (Always satisfied) gets underway. The melancholy produced by a mournful acoustic guitar creates a kind of soothing atmosphere for the album ahead, and the added violin obviously helps underline it, too. After about two minutes, the track properly kicks off and builds up the black metal tension perfectly. As the low-pitched and cold snarls of Luk are added to the dread-ridden atmosphere, they ensure that the soundscape becomes complete, and with lyrics written in a fitting manner faithful to the period reflected in the artwork, one is instantly sucked into the stories Luk has created.

And speaking of the individual songs, every one of them draws direct inspiration (their titles as well as their topics) from old, Danish poems by the likes of Sophus Claussen (“Imperia”), Jeppe Aakjær (“Tyende sang”) and even H. C. Andersen (“Stemninger I & II”). The cold and shivering guitar riffs and blistering drumming in them instantly brings the classic Norwegian black metal sound to mind, and similarly, the lyrics have a constant, heinous feeling about them. And even though Denmark is not famous for its vast mountains, one does get the feeling that one is standing on a distant, snow-capped peak when listening to these tracks. In truth, however, one is actually a peasant living in serfdom, so tired in every fiber of one’s body that one finally collapses in the very field one has been working in for 40 or so years, as the painting by Brendekilde might suggest. And from this, Luk has single-handedly created a masterpiece that not only draws on the Danish cultural heritage, but also pays crystal clear homage to the genre’s origins in Norway.

Luk’s style of screaming is not unique to the genre, but what is special is the way he writes his songs. What differentiates him from many of his contemporaries is his storytelling style, and although you will probably need the lyrics on a sheet to truly understand the meaning, not to mention simply the words in the songs, you are still likely going to be stricken with awe by virtue of the sheer immensity of the moods created by the instrumentation. As such, even without digging into the lyrics, you can still thoroughly enjoy the album — but in case you are hungry for even more depth, I would highly urge you to give the entire record a spin whilst closely reading the lyrics alongside. This cannot be stressed enough: the record needs to be heard in one long sitting, because while it has drawn inspiration from various writers and poets, the complete soundscape is more like a continuous story, so that when “Angst” (despair) finally brings the album to a conclusion, it should be clear to anyone to what extent feelings of sadness, anguish, misery and, yes, despair, have helped shape this record. The choice of artwork, too, should be of little surprise, as it epitomizes the music to near-perfection.

There is little doubt in my mind that what Afsky has managed with “Ofte jeg drømmer mig død” lifts it to amongst the best Danish releases of 2020 — and perhaps it is even the very best. The way Luk has composed these songs seems very unique to me, at least in a Danish context, and the cold and melancholy atmosphere he has created is nothing short of stunning. Given the way in which extreme metal has evolved in Denmark, I have very high hopes for the future, and if Luk is just getting started here, I can barely imagine where the genre might go next.

9

Download: Tyende sang, Imperia, Bondeplage, Altid veltilfreds
For the fans of: Burzum, Solbrud, Winterfylleth, Wodensthrone, Wolves in the Throne Room
Listen: Facebook

Release date 12.05.2020
Vendetta Records

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