19 Dec 2017

HarmDaud - Blinda Dödens Barn (Self-released - 2017)

HarmDaud is a one-man black metal act from north Sweden who has produced a strong debut in ”Blinda Dödens Barn”. Featuring both somber and aggressive passages as well as some really strong vocals.

I bought my digipack of this album directly from the band, and while I was a bit disappointed to find that it didn’t feature any booklet containing the lyrics and whatnot I must say that it’s a good looking release nonetheless. The CD face itself features only the HarmDaud-logo which has only been printed in the negative space between the logos outlines, leaving the blank surface of the CD visible in a way that felt particularly old-school. 

I’m glad to hear that opening track titled ”Vägens Slut” isn’t a pointless intro carpeted with synthesizers and sound effects. On the contrary, HarmDaud gets to the point rater immediately with blistering blastbeats and a plucked guitar riff. The high-point of the track is when this one man show lets his guttural vocals take the stage. Throughout the whole album the vocals are on the darker side of the spectra when it comes to BM-vocals, but when multi-instrumentalist Andreas Stenlund really dives into the depths is where he shines. Certainly a opening track that got me interrested in more. 

Second track ”Själens Vanmakt” is bit more upbreat and throws me off to some extent with an opening track has me thinking more of Gothenburg style death metal than anything I was expecting from HarmDaud. It is rectified with a couple of blasts and more brutal parts however, but all in all it is probably my least favourite track on the album and a suprizing choice as a second track. 

Following that is the title track ”Blinda Dödens Barn”, and we’re back on the heavier track and darker in mood. Once again Mr. Stenlund displays some fantastic vocal capabilities as his voice really carries the opening sections of the track alone. It cannot be stressed enough how excellent his growls are. In this track some synthesizers make an appearance, they are however not overbearing. Not even to me, who holds a deep resentment to them. There is a small interlude with plucked strings that give me a strong vibe of Vintersorg, and after reading the liner notes and finding out that as the man himself has been involved as a producer I cannot do else than assume that they were an addition from his side. Worth to mention is that the one man show that is HarmDaud used the play live guitars for Vintersorg in the years following the shift of the millennium

My favorite track on the album is "Slagregn", which is incredibly aggressive and draws my mind towards the likes of Mörk Gryning. Some really on point black metal riffing is served up, both on the higher strings as well as darker in the verses. In the middle Andreas uses his most guttural voice and sounds like he could devour solar systems whole. If I would have had a say in the track order here, this would be the opening track, or at least replaced "Själens Vanmakt" as a second. Highly recommended, and definitely the first track you should check out if you're curious about HarmDaud.

"Andetag" follows up and has a more somber tone to it. The track is somewhat dreamy and has a hypnotic repetitiveness to it, a nice chance to catch your breath after the onslaught of "Slagregn". I believe that I can hear some more V-sorg influences here as well in the way the track is put together. It's the longest track on the album, clocking in at just short of seven minutes, and besides a harpsichord interlude in the middle it never breaks its swaying, hypnotic rhythm.

We arrive back in more aggressive territories with "Till Glömskan" which attacks with a mid-tempo blastbeast and the vocals kicking in almost immediately, but the chorus keeping some of the somber tone from the previous track. A long break with harmonizing guitars then leads into a doomier passage. I was hoping for it to maintain more of the aggressive touch from the opening for the sake of variety, but it doesn't kill the overall experience.

"Vemodet" starts of heavy and dark, with the harmonies less prominent to instead give room for the vocals. It also has some more interesting rhythms to the guitar riffs in contrast to the constant tremolo riffing or tremolo picked chords from previous tracks. This is also a track I would say deserves a earlier spot on the album, then again it features some grandiose strings and horns that's fitting for an epic finisher. And it's also a wise choice to spread out the choice cuts throughout the meal.

Distorted drums fade into the finishing track "Memento Mori" before kicking into a furious blast with a classic "angry wasp" riff. The chorus shows some more inventive ways of using the guitar that I really enjoy and the tremolo leads throw in some nice drills on the guitar strings that are a nice touch that you don't notice immediately. I suspect that this finishing track might be the last track written for the album as well, and it shows a lot of variety that would have been welcome in the some of the earlier tracks as well. A strong finisher that shows promise for the future.

Productions wise there is nothing to complain about, Mr. V knows exactly how to handle this type of music. And lo and behold: the bass is audible! A commendable feat in this day an age if anything. Overall everything blends perfectly, be it the guitars, strings or vocals, everything sits exactly where where they should in the mix. The drums are obviously programmed, but HarmDaud does not try to mask that with any made-up drummer with a fake name.

This is a fine debut with some small identity issues that I think will be figured out on later releases, HarmDaud is obviously still getting warmed up here. The vocals are some of the best I've heard in a while, especially in the lower register, but it is the variety that really gives them the little extra. The guitars and composing is handled well by Andreas Stenlund as well, certainly in the more varied tracks. The album has some highs and lows, but quality throughout, and I will definitively keep my eyes open for more from this project. "Blinda Dödens Barn" earns: 7,2/10

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