Draugsól – Volaða Land (2017) REVIEW

As interesting and frightfully alien as Icelandic black metal has been so far, I don’t think many bands from the region capture the woefully loud and primal energy of black metal as successfully as Svartidauði, Their complex extension of DeathSpell Omega influenced atmospheric and technical black metal isn’t completely original but it might have been one of the more important releases to give chaos and precision to the scene. Bands like Misþyrming have seemingly materialized and offered something more atmospheric, nuanced and less chaotic. This debut from Draugsól seems to bring back the chaos while inserting their own prideful and epic take that is surprisingly unafraid of subtle atmospheric death metal influences.

After a short intro ‘Volaða Land’ ruptures itself into two nine minute songs that blend the sinister attack of black metal with what resembles a generationally unintentional summons of viking melody. “Formæling” is a perfect example of how this album almost directly channels the first Windir album in it’s boastful melody that is obscured by darker, louder black metal fury. I can only mean that as a compliment and the rest of the album certainly lives up to that initial rupture. These epic ambitions and rolling, rock-ish drum patterns appear to draw more from pagan black metal than the DeathSpell comparisons you might normally pull from Icelandic black metal and that is a breath of fresh air for me.

As much as I enjoy the wall of sound and all of the screaming what kept me listening to this album was almost solely the guitar arrangement. “Holdleysa” is a standout in terms of arrangement and subverted expectations, what could have been a wall of stupid noise actually redeems itself with the slower movements and clean vocals that break things up. The vocals do become abrasive and the noisy bashing of the drums eventually started to wear on me like an old LLN demo tape at some point. Still, I appreciate this sort of cross-section of Svartidauði’s bombast fused with prideful pagan black metal as it gives me hope these aesthetics eventually go beyond shrieking and fluid riffing to greater variation and personality.


Artist Draugsól
Type Album
Released January 13, 2017
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Prophecies and outdoor spaces. 3.5/5.0