Kjeld’s debut album Skym saw the light of day back in 2015, and apart from their split with Wederganger in 2016, (which was then rereleased as an EP in 2018), we’ve had nothing new from them since. So, when Ôfstân appeared on my radar, I knew I wanted to check in with them to see how their icy brand of black metal was doing in 2021. It turns out, it’s doing very well indeed.
Kjeld play their black metal with frosted passion and with a clarity of purpose. This is scathingly fast black metal for a lot of its time, delivered in the traditional Norwegian orthodox style. Founded on the twin pillars of aggressive melody and dark atmosphere, the songs on Ôfstân honour what came before them, while having a strength and vision of their own.
Kjeld make the most of their musical template to deliver 56 minutes of engaging material. The songs combine atmospheric density with melodic bite and blackened brutality. These core values that the music embodies so well are deployed across the album in different ratios, and different aspects of them are emphasised at different times, depending on the the individual needs of the music. This approach has worked wonders for Kjeld, resulting in songs that fit together holistically and flow very well, yet also allow each track to have its own personality.
The album has many highlights, some of which are relatively subtle, but grow more distinct upon repeat listens. Songs like De Lensume Widner highlight the band’s more brutal elements, while the middle section of the title track brings the band’s more atmospheric, nuanced qualities to the fore. Asbran has some epic parts to it, (reminding me a little of Keep of Kalessin in places), whereas the following track Wite Fokel twists and turns with expressive guitar work.
Ôfstân is filled with fast-paced aggressive darkness, and is imbued with frosted energy that propels the music endlessly forward even as it branches out with melodic and atmospheric might. The return of Kjeld is a thing of blackened beauty. If you’re a fan of black metal’s original second wave form, then you won’t want to miss out on this.
Very highly recommended.