Aurvandil Thrones

Aurvandil Thrones
5
The proper name Aurvandil is proto-Germanic and means "luminous wanderer"; it is usually a reference to the North Star, and several mythological figures related to that celestial body's origin story have also borne the name (like the Norse giant Aurvandil, whose toe froze while carrying Thor across a river; in gratitude, the thunder god placed his digit in the heavens and it became the North Star). The French black metal band who have adopted the moniker seemed up to the task of living up to the rich history of their namesake; their 2011 debut full-length, Yearning, was a lovely and luminous offering, full of plaintive guitar passages, delicate tones and sophisticated emotional explorations.

Unfortunately, their follow-up, Thrones, is a significant step back. Gone is the shivering clarity and tenderness of Yearning, replaced with drab, traditional black metal production and a swallowed, sulky vocal style. None of the record's four tracks run less than 12 minutes, and often become unwieldy and feel overdrawn; the melodies wander and become muddied, done no favours by the wallowing moodiness of the tone.

Aurvandil are at their best when they embrace the light, the plaint, the verdant and fresh; this foray back into traditional, Scandinavian black metal does not suit them. (Eisenwald)