Asgrauw – IJsval (Review)

Asgrauw - IJsvalThis is the fourth album from Asgrauw, a black metal band from the Netherlands.

Previous full-length Gronspech was an enjoyable album that appealed to the old-school black metal fanbase, and new album IJsval continues in this same vein, with 38 minutes of biting blackened material.

Steeped in second wave 90s darkness, and aided by atmospheric synths, this release holds largely fast/upbeat songs that tear through the playing time eagerly and easily. The band do use multiple paces and have an ear for songwriting pace, however, and also enter slower atmospheric territories on occasion.

Bleak, dark atmosphere is created well, regardless of pace, and IJsval almost sounds like a product of the 90s second wave scene that it’s so clearly enamoured with. Cold, icy melody seeps out of the music like a malignant entity, and combined with the abundant use of synths, makes for an engaging listen. I like the band’s use of dual vocals, with one set consisting of piercing screams, and the other adopting a more unhinged approach. The production is well-judged, balanced between clarity and rawness.

Overall IJsval achieves what it sets out to, and should be worth your time if you’re a fan of the 90s Scandinavian scene.

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