April 26, 2018

Grá - Väsen

Band: Grá
Title: Väsen
Label: Carnal Records
Release Date: 27 April 2018
Country: Sweden
Format reviewed: CD-quality Digital Promo

Grá was formed in 2010 with the purpose to describe and present the “dark aspects of the ancient Scandinavian spirituality”. It’s a blasting Swedish black metal - intense, atmospheric, open-chorded. With three albums behind now, Grá really are creating their own world on the black metal map and following their own way.

The name Grá is a mixture of the Icelandic “grár” and the Swedish “grå”, which means “gray”. And I really imagine the music of the band in grey – ashen grey, desperate grey, hopeless grey all over a stormy grey land with gun metal grey sky where only Death reigns.

There are important changes coming with "Väsen". The band introduced a new logo, created by Lucitania. The rebranding is a milestone on the band’s way towards discovering new territories. Furthermore, Natt is no longer with the band and most of the guitars were recorded by Heljarmadr himself (everybody knows he is performing vocals in Dark Funeral since 2015), the main man behind Grá. This is not a concept album, another difference with the previous releases. So now each and every song stands on its own and has its own meaning. Another interesting fact is that the artwork is done by Axel Turvenius, the art director of Machine Games, recently known for the award-winning video game Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. The artwork is in all shades of grey of course…

Produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by Heljarmadr Productions, the album’s sound is not that raw now and offers a much closer, more intimate, even dreamy grey atmosphere. On top, there are much slower elements and passages in comparison the old productions. Dreamy and lazy, I would call them, with open chords and swirling melody…They are like some helpless sunrays trying to break through the grey skies.

“Väsen” contains 8 tracks and has a total running time of 41 minutes. The opening “Till sörjerskorna” (incl. even some electronic elements) and “King of decay” are a great introduction to the typical Grá world. “Hvedrungs mær” is slow, deceptively moving away from the cold grey clouds for a while. The first single “Krig” is very atmospheric, slower too, taking us back to the grey death fields. The ambient electronic main line in “Gjallarhorn” brings the seeming calmness of the reigning death, accompanied by acoustic guitar elements, trying to fight with the blasting desperation. “Dead Old Eyes” is a catchy, blasting grey metal track. In Devil’s Tribe, the Death dances around in a mystical tribal dance before it goes collecting new souls. The album finishes with the title track Väsen – an epic, cold, sorrowful, aggressive, mournful end of a grey existence…

No doubt, with “Väsen” Grá, are giving us a very good black metal album in 2018. Solid and very diverse, yet not showing off – humble and looking over at all the posing in the genre... Making no compromise to the style, but at the same time presenting us their own grey world of death and desperation. 7.5/10 Count Vlad

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