Asgrauw - IJsval

Asgrauw are a 3 piece Netherlands based group that perform their style of music in the old school, ‘kvlt’ black metal style that will appeal to those who enjoy the likes of Watain, Sargeist, or even Horna. It takes a bit to get used to their music even after four albums since 2014 as the music is harsh, yet buried with melodies from acoustic guitar and synth, but sparse enough that no one would dare call this symphonic or melodic black metal. This is about is raw as the 90s could give listeners in the genre so those who are very much against the likes of groups like Cradle Of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, or Anorexia Nervosa who tend to add a lot more depth and sometimes filler to their black metal style will really find this appealing. Sparing no one, the apocalypse has certainly come with the group’s fourth full length “IJsval.” The album lyrics and title is entirely in Dutch it seems so there may be a bit of a language barrier but the delivery of the music will certainly impress enough.

The music is pretty straightforward by black metal standards- a somewhat lo-fi atmosphere with tons of tremolo picking, razor sharp guitar riffs, somewhat present bass, and plodding but not monotonous drums. Tracks like the opening ‘Leeg’ and ‘Broeihaard’ certainly have a little bit of that punk infused tone to them though not quite as obvious as groups like Dark Throne would put out there, and then there are those like ‘Heilloos’ that just blaze right through with little regard for melody or rhythm as they try to be as vile and raw sounding as possible. Tracks like that will probably appeal to the most kvlt side of listeners. Vocally, the group does feel like they stumble a bit, starting on a spoken word bark before delving into a mix between a raw scream and then typical black metal shrieking. The vocals get more consistent as the album progresses but here and there it feels like Asgrauw attempt to try too many varied vocal styles which might throw listeners off a bit. The spoken word sections such as on ‘Stortvloed’ are more effectively used and can be compared to some of the work that Arioch of Funeral Mist adds such spoken bits to his work to enhance that atmosphere by departing from a typical black metal style to a more ‘crazed church delivery’ while mocking the thing that thing that black metal tends to point its finger at. Though when he does it he can carry on quite a bit and Asgrauw know how to use it in shorter, more impactful bits.

Comparing “IJsval” to previous works the group doesn’t tend to vary from album to album. There may be a few more added guitar melodies such as the acoustic closing on the opening track or some organized synth on ‘Wanorde,’ but overall the core sound that the group has done for the last six years or so is the same. One thing that Asgrauw do push is the time limit of their song structures, and on the title track they push towards more epic boundaries clocking almost 9 minutes, something they haven’t done before. Here, the band finds time to slow down a bit on the guitar melodies and present a balanced and effective song that has its speedier black metal moments and then also some much slower, but nowhere near quiet, passages that evoke a different kind of darkness and evil. It is by no far boring or covered with interluding fuller, though some rumbling samples are used amongst the guitar. It is a good presentation that takes what is heard on a lot of the other tracks, so if one can only take so much of the black metal rawness that is Asgrauw, then ‘IJsval’ would be the track to choose to get the full experience. While the band doesn’t really present anything that hasn’t been done before in the genre or what they’ve put forth on previous works, new listeners who like raw black metal should certainly check them out for the dark and furious atmosphere they deliver.

2.5 / 5 STARS 


1. Leeg
2. IJsval
3. Nevel
4. Stortvloed
5. Broeihaard
6. Heilloos
7. Wanorde