Asgrauw – Gronspech
Label: Hidden Marly Productions
Date: July 17, 2018
I’ve been following this band’s career almost since the beginning and there is a good reason for that. Of course, getting to the third full-length album in the span of just 4 years, playing well-known type of Black Metal might seem like this Dutch trio is going for the “quantity over quality” category, but this is not the case. Far from it.
The first thing that meets the eye is the front cover. Unlike your usual black and white photos of band members posing with skulls and horns or some “necrotic” sketches, here we have a pleasure with the beautiful colors of an oil painting bearing enough darkness to uncover the content of the actual CD. Well done!
Speaking about the music itself, I’m having trouble writing anything too original when it comes to this album. Asgrauw plays Black Metal, second wave, Scandinavian form of the genre. And they do it very good. What I mean exactly is that they surely don’t hide their influences yet, at the same time, don’t go for another meaningless copy of the legends. Sure, you can hear the Darkthrone infused rawness, even a couple of Punk rhythms similar to the later era of the Norwegians. Beautifully composed guitar leads often remind me of early Emperor, especially when they are enhanced by the eerie keyboard passages.
The songs on this release tend to get pretty long, even above 6 minutes at times, yet Asgrauw manages to arrange them with all sorts of various rhythms, ranging from slow and melancholic, to characteristic Black Metal blasts. At the same time they successfully avoid Progressive connotations, keeping the cold aura surrounding the tunes. The Dutch even managed to vary the vocals with some clean shouting, to break the usual screams, and get another layer to cover this album. Bass guitar is finely accentuated when it is necessary, getting almost a leading role (especially in some parts of the opening track).
Aggression and coldness rule over this release, which is to be expected of a Black Metal band. As the press release states (since I’m not acquainted with the Dutch language at all) that this album revolves around the local mythology, and that is another major plus of this release, if you ask me. It is refreshing to know there are bands covering their local myths, instead of going for the well-worn Vikings or something like that. Furthermore, some of the lyrics seem to be written in the Groesbeek local dialect. Hey, guys, can I at least get the translations? I would love to get to know something about the themes covered here.
In any case, Black Metal fans should be more than excited about this release. It contains everything we all know and love about this genre, plus something more. Well-made album, deeply rooted in the basics, yet with a twist of their own style. Highly recommended!