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Asathor – Vegvísir

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It is said that a good wine needs time to develop its real flavor and I’d say that today’s review is about a band that has followed that same principal, because they’ve been around for almost a decade and a half without releasing any recorded music. This Saturday, however, it is finally time for Asathor to unleash their debut record Vegvísir on the hungry masses! I was fortunate enough to get an early listen and I’d like to share my thoughts on it!

But first, a quick and brief introduction: the band has been around and active in the concert scene since the mid-2000s, playing regular shows until they underwent several line-up changes before finding their current five-man setup and recording this album. They play a viking-themed mixture between black and death metal and, while not reinventing the wheel in any shape or form, churn out captivating tunes.

A black metal aficionado will immediately feel at home while the rhythm guitar spits out riffs filled with pure despair and the lead guitar sometimes wanders into fairly unconventional territories, that always end up being extremely memorable and catchy. I would even go as far and say that the leads are what set the local pagans apart from many of their peers, since they are so different to what you’d expect, yet blend in perfectly at the same time. I also have to give special credit for the bass guitar, which adds an extra sonic layer with its nice and chunky sound.

It would be very remiss of me not to mention the drums, since they soldier on steadily throughout the entire listening experience and almost never relent from bombarding you with double bass attacks. However, they also provide a lot of variety between the blast beats and groove-laden parts in the form of occasional tasty fills. They also interlock perfectly with the other instruments and perform their duty of musical wayfinder at all times.

Arguably, my personal star of the show is the vocalist though. Not only is his performance very versatile and overall spot-on in terms of techniques used, but he also manages to almost always clearly enunciate the lyrics, making it fairly easy to follow along the stories about viking lore after the second or third listen. On top of that, he also brings a certain viciousness and perseverance to the table that constantly shines through.

Despite all my praise, there is one minor gripe I have with Vegvísir: it’s too short! The seven tracks, of which two are an intro and an interlude, clock in just under thirty minutes. On the other hand, this might also be an asset, since the five actual tracks are very solid and have an almost infinite replay value. Last but not least, I should also mention the overall mixing of the record, which is very organic sounding and is very comparable to the guys’ live sound.

To sum things up I would say that, even though they took their sweet time, Asathor have managed to come up with a very respectable first entry into their discography and I hope that Vegvísir will see a successor in the not too distant future. If you want to be part of the release show, you should set sail for the Mix N’ Kawa in Belval this Saturday, November 2nd. In the meantime, you can listen to the song below or head to the band’s Facebook page. Skål!