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Album Review: AUÐN Vökudraumsins fangi

8.5/10 Reviewer

Auðn are an Icelandic black metal band and while they pull from a lot of second-wave black metal concepts, their approach and production are informed by their local scene and feel distinctly modern. This unique blend helps them stand out in their scene. Equally important is that distinct Icelandic 'twist.' The scene on that remote island is remarkable, and Vökudraumsins fangi is the perfect example of the magic found within. Auðn understand the power of the genre. Their music is executed with a certain bombast that helps bring thrilling drama to their sound. Vökudraumsins fangi paints a picture of a band with great respect for both their musical ancestors and the world around them. Listening to it all unfold is a rare treat.

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Vökudraumsins fangi fascinates in both the way the band clearly loves classic black metal but also in how they bring in their unique take on things. The sense of transcendence one hears on a track like "Einn Um Alla Tið" would make even Quorthon proud. The songwriting seems to have benefited from tours with both Gaahls Wyrd and The Great Old Ones. This is the soundscape from which Auðn begin.

As per the Icelandic black metal side of the music… Well, for those not in the know, Auðn share members current and former with acts like Dynfari, Danarbed, Negura Bunget, and Heift. The pedigree is clearly there. They bring a ferocity that is wholly their own. It's thrilling to see it unfold and there is a very real dynamism that helps to fuel the tormented poetry of Vökudraumsins fangi.

One would be remiss in talking about this record and not discussing the sonic fireworks of songs like 'Eldborg.' These are compositions that revel in the inherent drama of black metal. Some of the tracks are downright explosive. One of Auðn's great strengths has always been an ability to elegantly contrast dark and light. They do so with aplomb here. 'Næðir Um' is perhaps a premier example of what Auðn are at their finest – black metal with a clear and transcendent vision. They can be just as evil as their peers, but they also understand how to craft thrilling soundscapes. Toss in a few poetic moments of psychedelia and the band proves that they are greater than the sum of their influences.

Auðn have really gone above and beyond. These are songs of both patience and perseverance, rewarding multiple listens and daring listeners to delve deeper. The sonic basis of this band, both in second-wave black metal and the Icelandic scene is crucial. The bombast of the tracks though is what sets them apart. It definitely proves that Auðn are one of a kind. Vökudraumsins fangi is their thrilling victory lap. The band have unveiled songs that pay tribute to their musical heritage, but do so much more than that. To press play on Vökudraumsins fangi is to immerse oneself in a stunning epic. The pleasure, of course, is in picking it apart.

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