PICK OF THE WEEK: Draugnim back from lengthy hibernation with crushing, powerful ‘Vulturine’

DraugnimWe end this week with something really huge. That is, huge emotionally and musically. A record that feels like it’s bringing the power of the world and dropping it at your feet. An album that might have its hefty share of darkness but can’t help but feel like you’re experiencing grandeur on a planetary level. It’s OK to have fun with a really heavy album now and again, you know.

We haven’t had a visit from Finnish metal squadron Draugnim in six years, but that silence finally has been broken on the band’s third record “Vulturine,” being released by Debemur Morti. It’s massive and jammed with riffs, the songs are beastly, and every ounce of the record bursts with energy. The band’s melding of black metal and pagan metal is dramatic and swelling, and the music they present on this album fills our chest and mind with visions and dreams. The band feeds off northern folklore of their homeland and visit topics such as decay, corruption, and death, and they find a way to make that music lively and not wallowing in total darkness.

Draugnim coverDraugnim originally started off as a one-man project led by Morior (who handles guitars and keyboards), but it grew in ranks when vocalist Chimedra and bassist Turms joined the fold. The band got started in 1999, released a slate of demo recordings, took some breaks, and then released their first proper album with 2008’s “Northwind’s Ire.” They followed that up just two years later on “Horizons Low,” and from that point they went silent. Now’s as good a time as any for them to come back into focus. With so many bands dabbling in similar areas often focusing on ugly, guttural sounds, it’s great to hear a band such as Draugnim put some drama and majesty into what they’re doing and give listeners a kick in the face.

The first burst of power comes from “That Name Is Hate,” a track that starts with a downpour before it rips open with huge riffs and a power metal feel to the assault. The vocals are gruff and dark, while synth sheets rain down sounding like battle horns, and majestic melodies carry the song to its end. “As In Hunger, So In Demise” has cold guitars trickling before a gigantic melody fires up, and the vocals crush and rush. Amazing playing surges, with the keys smearing everything. Meanwhile, a psychedelic haze takes hold, and creaky speaking brings the track to a temporary halt before folk-like sounds rage out of the other end. The final minutes are electric and emotional, surging and shining before fading. “A Passage in Fire” blasts right away, with guitars swirling and dizzying, and the song raging and simmering in molten melodies. The track encircles you, smothering with energy, with vicious vocals adding a level of blackness. The final minutes are devoted to a long stretch of playing that trudges relentlessly.

“Grief Unsung” has winds blowing in, with the track settling into a middle tempo that still thrashes hard. A collection of sounds spill down, with gazey guitars gushing, cavernous wails caving your chest, and moody guitars letting thick clouds settle overhead. “Drums of Black Death” has a spindly start that later charges up and spouts dark sentiments. The growls sear, while the melodies oddly take on a blue-sky feel, making it feel like you’re soaring through the atmosphere toward an unpredictable adventure. The guitars keep your blood moving, while the great power makes the final moments of the song feel wonderfully over the top. Closer “Serpent Stone” actually begins quietly, taking some time to let you sample serenity before the roof is torn off. Sleek synth lines add a sense of elegance to the song, while the gurgled growls and simple chorus howling back the track’s title inject wonder and terror equally. More folkish melodies slip in, while the band ramps up their final attack, driving their emotion into the ground with force, and pouring their last gasps of chaos into the song and fading into the night.

I can’t get over what an enthralling listen “Vulturine” truly is. Its massiveness cannot be denied, and it’s a callback to an era when metal could be an overwhelming force and also pack plenty of menace. This record could be celebrated anywhere–in a dark room with headphones, in the spacious wilderness, on a sojourn in your mind–and the scene would be fitting. Draugnim’s absence may have been a long one, but that only makes their return this much more satisfying.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Draugnim-6222303077/

To buy the album, go here: http://www.debemur-morti.com/en/12-eshop

For more on the label, go here: http://www.debemur-morti.com/en/

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