Vår Tid Är Nu

Dark Essence
rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Intro (feat. Creepers)
02. 9:e Cirkeln
03. Eremiten (feat. Doedsadmiralen)
04. Elden Har Vaknat
05. Alfa Omega (feat. Nattefrost)
06. Wolfman
07. När Allt Faller - Kaiken Kaatuessa (feat. Spellgoth)
08. 213
09. Vår Tid Är Nu (feat. Nattfursth)
10. Outro (feat. Spellgoth)

Black metal and rock 'n' roll are essentially indivisible. From VENOM and BATHORY to countless latter-day crossover miscreants, the combination of dissonant, frostbitten riffs and hard rock swagger is hard to top. ALFAHANNE have been peddling their own strain for a long time now. Over their four studio albums to date, the Swedes have shown great ingenuity and fortitude, with numerous subtle detours from their original formula adding depth and nuance along the way. Deserving of much more attention than they have received over the last 14 years, ALFAHANNE have steadily grown in stature and potency. "Vår Tid Är Nu" offers no radical departures, but it has vast quantities of gritty charm and some of the sharpest songs the band have ever written.

The first thing that hits is the sheer rapacious rawness of the album's production. A lesser band might have opted for a big, modern sound to really hammer home each riff, but ALFAHANNE are spiritually tethered to the black metal mast, and their intrinsic malevolence informs every last minute here. Bookended by spooky intros, featuring underground mavens CREEPERS and SPELLGOTH respectively, "Vår Tid Är Nu" is perhaps the bleakest and most brittle ALFAHANNE album, at least in sonic terms, and their songwriting has moved forward into even more unsettling territory than before.

The opening "9:e Cirkeln" is a spiky, pulsing thing that reintroduced the Swedes' trademark sound while also dragging it ever further into the shadows, albeit with a central guitar melody that owes at least half a kidney to SATYRICON's "Mother North". "Eremiten" is a more sophisticated, mid-paced rager, with a pitch-black gothic underbelly, shades of early '80s post-punk and a driving, dark-hued gait that recalls the late, great SENTENCED. As it ends, a rasping organ drone bubbles up from the depths, just in case anyone was in doubt about ALFAHANNE's weirdo credentials.

On "Elden Har Vaknat", they up the black metal quotient and hammer away with lobotomized glee over a rapid, one-eyed beat, as vexed chords clash and vocalist Pehr Skjoldhammer screams himself inside out. Although at a similar, breathless pace, "Alfa Omega" is a more melodic blizzard of callous riffing, with a cameo from legendary headcase NATTEFROST; while "Wolfman" is a pugnacious curveball that allows slide guitar and big classic rock riffs into the mix. ALFAHANNE are back on familiar territory for "Nar Allt Faller - Kaiken Kaatuessa", which draws raunchy, low-slung power from a blastbeat-driven blur of muscle and malice, and the murderous "213", which adds a dash of theatrical fervor and some claustrophobic melodic touches, which is presumably what Jeffrey Dahmer would have wanted from such an askance tribute. Finally, the title track finds the band in a more reflective mood, with melancholy scorched into every one of its seven minutes and a circular, melodic motif that whirls around like a slow-motion corpsepaint tornado.

Guardians of a sound that they have molded to their own nefarious ends, ALFAHANNE are on great form here. "Vår Tid Är Nu" is a monochrome, leather-clad tour-de-force.

Author: Dom Lawson
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