While I consider myself a black metal enthusiast, I still find myself scouring the underground and discovering gems left, right, and centre. Enter Aubzagl, a black metal quartet hailing from Yorkshire, England. The debut album, Eilífa Kuldinn, is a well-executed and addictive atmospheric album clocking in at just under 28 minutes. Despite the evident influence of vintage black metal from the early ’90s, AUBZAGL does an excellent job of crafting their style with a pummeling album that leaves you wanting more.
Kicking off the record is the short haunting introduction, “Núll,” a collection of discordant sounds setting the footprint for the rest of the album. Next up is “The Hermit,” where the influence of Emperor and Darkthrone is prevalent, as the song starts with a frenetic pace. The small mellifluous interlude at the beginning of the song indicates that this isn’t your run-of-the-mill black metal band trying to rehash the glory days. The riffs and blast beats keep on coming with the next two tracks, “Varaha” and “The Oath of Blood,” where the musicianship is on display from guitarist Jamie Silver, bassist Paul Priest, and drummer Arron Healy. Seamlessly oscillating between melodic sequences and battering rhythms, the third track is a perfect representation of what this band has to offer on the rest of the album.
Fans of atmospheric and ambient black metal will especially enjoy “Voice of the Aether,” as the sorrowful lyrics mesh well with the droning, hypnotic rhythm. The raspy emotional vocals from Andy Wears, in particular, provide the perfect counterbalance to the galloping riffs and rolling beats on all tracks. Next up is “Óglit,” a dissonant mesmerizing track preparing users for “The Adversary,” which opens with the resonant black metal rhythm that extreme metal fans have come to love.
The album concludes with the aptly titled “The End of All Things,” launching aggressively before the headbanging rhythm begins again. The mournful lyrics are emotionally striking, guiding listeners to a final sojourn to eternal damnation and nothingness: “Ever onward through the depths/I see skeleton forests and hellfire/No sky, no stars /Just eternal nothing.” The finale is where we get one last harmonic interlude, setting up listeners for a final ferocious assault from all fronts.
Although I never heard of Aubzagl, I have already listened to the album several times and am eagerly awaiting their next effort. It may not be a generational classic, but it’s an excellent first effort at the bat and a solid album overall for fans of both black and extreme metal.
Written by Jonathan Berthold
*edited by Danielle Kenedy