It’s been many, many years since I last heard Azaghal. This is definitely my loss, as I was a huge fan of the band at one point. Unfortunately I just lost track of what they were doing, for no particular reason, so it’s great to have the opportunity to catch up with them on their latest release.
On Valo Pohjoisesta the band deliver 46 minutes of cold, hate-fuelled black metal.
One of the things I always liked about Azaghal was their ability to play traditional black metal, but with cruelly inventive and darkly creative songwriting. Some of the band’s riffs and melodies are not what you’d expect them to be, but always in very gratifying and enticing ways. It seems that since they’ve been out of my sight, Azaghal have not lost any of their talent in this regard.
In fact, they seem to have picked up a few new skills over the years too; the brief clean vocals in Ajaton caught me by surprise, for example, and the band have expanded their melodic and atmospheric toolkits.
So yes, Valo Pohjoisesta continues to display Azaghal’s talent for crafting merciless black metal with interesting structures and dynamics. Every song on this record carries the power of true orthodox black metal, while also managing to effortlessly carve an identity for itself that firmly and decisively lets you know that this is Azaghal you’re listening to, and nobody else.
This is the band’s eleventh album, so at this stage you’d assume that the band know what they’re doing with material like this. What’s impressive though, is just how damn good it is. Valo Pohjoisesta is a very, very strong album, and I’m incredibly pleased that I’ve finally caught up with them once more. My only regret is that I didn’t manage to get around to listening to this earlier, as it was released last year.
Hail Azaghal! Make sure you give this repeated listens.