Andavald
Undir Skyggðarhaldi


4.2
excellent

Review

by Claire Q. STAFF
June 18th, 2019 | 28 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Crushed into heaven

Within the Icelandic black metal scene, Andavald immediately distinguish themselves through their slower pacing (usually in the form of sombre triple-time) and dense, funereal atmosphere — a contrast to the swagger of Misthyrming, the grim determination found in Sinmara, or the wildly unhinged nature of Skaphe and Wormlust. On their debut LP, Undir skyggðarhaldi, Andavald appear almost threatening in their vulnerability; songs are wrapped with thorns and snarls, a tangled thicket partially obscuring the melodies beneath.

Undir skyggðarhaldi seems to lash at no one in particular, but it creates a rich spectacle out of its torment, constantly agonized yet never really bleak — it has a certain relish, a corrupted joie de vivre that keeps its shrivelled heart beating. And the vocals — zealously performed and astonishingly inhuman at times, the most immediate element of the spectacle; tortured gasps, gurgles, and crazed laughter that feel genuinely disconcerting. Chords, pained and drawn out, mix ambiguity into minor key progressions; a section of “Afvegaleiðsla” features a sort of mocking beauty as a quasi-triumphant major chord is layered behind the foreground sequences. As the track closes out, a sense of suffocation is present in the clash between the two different guitar lines; the production adds just a touch of harshness to sharpen the feedback, akin to tiny glistening shards.

I propose that Undir skyggðarhaldi attempts to shield itself using its very displays of pain, perhaps displaying a sort of pride in being able to suffer that much. It plumbs the depths of despondence and madness on “Hugklofnun”, cries urgently on the title track before fading out hopelessly. Andavald weaponize vulnerability and make it frightening; it seems utterly uninviting, unlikely to draw anyone willing to help or protect. Yet it’s impossible to look away.

More subtle is the etherealness of Undir skyggðarhaldi, distorted by a terrifying visage. This trait is exemplified in “Afvegaleiðsla”, which tries to hide its delicateness — certain riffs ringing towards the heavens, a (relatively) gentle guitar lead getting caught up in the haze. And the haze itself, even, can tower over impressively, elevating itself from the deeper, darker recesses. The drumming on “Afvegaleiðsla” is also surprisingly elegant, maintaining a certain sway, recalling dances from better times. The title track, meanwhile, pits desperate shrieks against chords which can only be described as sighing, almost sweet.

For all its miseries, Undir skyggðarhaldi is a curiously fulfilling experience; I think the focus ends up not on its grievances so much as on its ability to twist horrifying things into crushing gorgeousness. Many aspects of the music, taken individually, feel pretty fucked up (play the laughs on “Hugklofnun” a couple of times and you’ll see what I mean); the no-holds-barred vocal performance could have lent itself very easily to melodrama or contrivance, but avoids that pitfall by not feeling human altogether (it’s harder to attribute melodrama to the inner lives of monsters). And despite a journey spent in excruciation, a sense of victoriousness crawls its way out as the cold, dreary epilogue plays on.




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Comments:Add a Comment 
deathofasalesman
June 18th 2019


6117 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album absolutely destroys. Awesome review!

garas
June 18th 2019


1082 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

[2]

Digging: Slayer - World Painted Blood

Pikazilla
June 18th 2019


812 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album's great albeit repetitive at times.

Hawks
June 18th 2019


71856 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Can’t wait to hear. m/

Digging: State Faults - Clairvoyant

Oceandrowned
June 18th 2019


869 Comments


It's reviews like these catches my attention for something, that shouldn't be listened to anyway. The vocal sounds intriguing on this one, like the dem alien vocals.

ProjectFreak
June 18th 2019


3720 Comments


I feel like this isn't my thing but I love all your reviews, claire

Gyromania
June 18th 2019


27561 Comments


Afvegaleiðsla is fucking AMAZING

Digging: black midi - Schlagenheim

TheSpirit
Contributing Reviewer
June 18th 2019


25436 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Good review! I enjoyed this album a lot.

Digging: Malfet - The Way To Avalon

zaruyache
June 18th 2019


21044 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Aoty

Digging: Imha Tarikat - Kara Ihlas

brainmelter
June 18th 2019


6431 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

ayyy

Digging: Yellow Eyes - Rare Field Ceiling

clavier
Staff Reviewer
June 18th 2019


909 Comments

Album Rating: 4.2 | Sound Off

thanks everyone!

on the other side of the Icelandic BM spectrum the skaphe/wormlust collab is a wild trip

Digging: Skaphe and Wormlust - Kosmskur Hryllingur

necropig
June 18th 2019


5458 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

hell yea



'skaphe/wormlust collab is a wild trip' [2]

Digging: Kommodus - An Imperial Sun Rises

naughtcturnal
June 18th 2019


975 Comments


Saw someone comment about this recently and had to listen. Those vox really are something else. Great write-up as always!!! Gonna buy this soon

Digging: GARDSGHASTR - Slit Throat Requiem

necropig
June 18th 2019


5458 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'd said to peeps in the Misþyrming thread to check it :3

naughtcturnal
June 18th 2019


975 Comments


That is indeed the comment that I saw. Thanks for hyping, necropig. Might not have listened to this otherwise

necropig
June 18th 2019


5458 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Just spreading the good shit

TheSpirit
Contributing Reviewer
June 19th 2019


25436 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

damn, this really slaps been listening non stop the last few days

Hawks
June 19th 2019


71856 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This def isn’t as good as the new Sinmara or Misthyrming but it still fuckin ripz ahrd. m/

robotmagician
June 19th 2019


1150 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

great review claire. so right about their sound in comparison to the others in the scene. misthyrming, svartidaudi, wormlust, skaphe, zhrine, etc all have their differences but still have an underlying town to what has become icelandic black metal. I don’t think this necessarily has that same feel.



great year for bm from that country tho. We’re still getting a wormlust album, hopefully the end of this year but who knows with that guy lol. Naðra is writing/demoing, and Sol an varma could be announcing something before the year is up.

Digging: Skaphe and Wormlust - Kosmskur Hryllingur

necropig
June 19th 2019


5458 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Need a few more listens but this is sinister



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