Lumsk — Asmund Fregdegjaevar (2003)

17.01.2004  :: АрхивАрхив рецензий Автор: Chris Alfano

Only 30 seconds of this disc had elapsed when multiple references to the «proggy» folk-metal of Amorphis became clear. Before indulging this thought any further, however, an introduction is in order. Lumsk is a seven-piece band from Norway that specializes in mature, thoughtful compositions that are as focused as they are diverse. The Scandinavian folk influence is most prominent on the first track, entitled «I lytinne tva». This song displays the talents of violinist Siv Lena, whose fluid string playing weaves a melodious tapestry of emotion that is somehow passive, yet urgent. This creates the ideal canvas on which singer Vibeke Arntzen’s vocal lamentations take form. While her performance is too typical of this genre (and thus, not overly impressive), it creates a sufficient sense of moodiness and intrigue.

«Ormin lange» begins with the melancholy tones of a pipe organ, over which a brief soliloquy foreshadows the story to come. According to Norwegian legend, Asmund Fregdegjaever was a gallant soldier who rescued a princess from the clutches of an evil female ogre named Skome-gyri. Sure, it sounds cheesy, but there is scarcely a nation in the world whose folklore doesnТt include the usual story of a «damsel in distress». Thus, Lumsk doesnТt lose any points for this disc’s conceptual leanings. Getting back to the track at hand, it seems that this band is intent on distinguishing themselves from others of their ilk. Upon the intro’s conclusion, guitarists Bjornar Selsbak and Eystein Garberg engage the listener with a doom-laden riff that is simultaneously contemplative and crushing. The title of this song is derived from the name of the ship that Asmund sailed on to carry out his heroic task, and it is especially fitting given the track’s epic keyboard melodies and haunting vocals.

Next up is «I trollehender», which serves as yet another exercise in punishing heaviness. We’re not talking about the type of heaviness that is/was practiced by Evoken or Thorr’s Hammer, but it is nonetheless extremely effective in context with the bandТs memorable songwriting skills. Lastly, we have «Kampen mot bergetrolli», which continues in the fine tradition of its three predecessors. This cut combines the bulky riffs of the previous two tracks with more fine string work by Siv Lena and the prominent keyboard presence of Espen Warankov Gobo. As its main theme soars into oblivion, one can’t help but feel disappointed by this disc’s mere 20-minute duration.

As this review comes to a close, I find it necessary to mention that the previous reference to Amorphis is perhaps not entirely fair. While the conceptual similarities between the two bands will undoubtedly raise the same comparison for many, the members of Lumsk are obviously trying to venture away from more frequently traveled waters. Where so many of their peers tend to obscure their metal roots through symphonic wankering (Therion, anyone?), this band embraces all of their influences and molds them into something that both captivates the mind and devastates the body. Check them out at http://www.lumsk.com.

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