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Hamferđ : Evst

Hamferđ’s first full-length is a must for lovers of melodic, deep and emotional Doom.

Three years ago, the first EP by Hamferđ, Vilst Er Siđsta Fet, came out of nowhere to cause quite a fuss among Doom connoisseurs. The Faroese band presented us with a remarkably mature piece of work full of powerful riffs, amazing melodies and emotive vocals. Even this early in their career, they had found their own voice and utilised it to great effect. Consequently, many listeners had high hopes for them: their proper full-length debut has been eagerly awaited, and now it is finally available, once again released by the Faroese label Tutl Records.

Let me tell you that Evst was definitely worth the wait. Once again, the six musicians prove their talent to write captivating songs and present them in a professional and convincing way. The high quality already begins with the production which seems to have received a lot of attention and can easily compete with recent releases of the most well-known acts in the scene. This way, the full potential of the music comes to fruition, and there is plenty of that to be found here. Those familiar with the debut will immediately recognise the deep, enveloping atmosphere of heartfelt tragedy. When listening to this album, it is easy to picture the Faroese islands in their seclusion, the stormy waters that hit the shores relentlessly. There is an epic feel to the music different to that of Epic Doom, a feel which evokes images of landscapes full of lonely grandeur. Another unmistakable element is the vocal performance with its often high pitched, but never cheesy timbre which goes right under your skin. The growled vocals, too, are very strong, albeit not quite as unique (which is difficult to achieve with growls anyway).

Then, there is the instrumental work which picks up many traditional elements of the genre without sounding generic. Basically, everything is in place here: the technically flawless drum patterns are efficient and always serve the purpose of the song, adding some flavour with impressive fills in the more dynamic parts (most notably in the title track) while remaining understated in others in order to allow for the necessary doomy flow. The bass guitar leaves nothing to be desired, either, supporting the overall heaviness while allowing enough space for the atmosphere. Keyboards are omnipresent, but they remain subdued in the mix and skilfully support the mood where needed, leaving the central stage to the guitars. The latter, alongside the vocals, are probably the most typical element with their descending arpeggios finely underscoring the crestfallen mood of the chord progressions. You will also find a number of excellent lead guitar melodies here and there, some of which can make you think of a doomier, less apathetic version of mid-era Katatonia.

The exclusive use of Faroese in the lyrics adds to the overall uniqueness and makes the compositions seem all the more authentic. On the basis of the few bits I understand, I can at least deduce that the lyrics are no bit less tragic and emotional than the compositions themselves. It would have been fairly interesting if they had printed English translations in the booklet – after all, Faroese is a very exotic language which you don’t hear too often in music. For listeners with an interest in languages, this surely adds another dimension worthy of attention, and personally, I would always prefer for musicians to use their mother tongue rather than singing in faulty English, as is the case far too often.

Evst is not a mere continuation of the style we know from the EP, however. There is a clear evolution to be heard, especially in the songwriting: with its subtle rhythmic changes and less straightforward structures, it tentatively ventures into progressive territory on occasion and thus makes for a somewhat more challenging listen, but the music remains fairly accessible on the whole, not least due to the memorable choruses. What is more, despite the largely homogeneous style and atmosphere, there is more variation between the tracks, the experimental and largely instrumental piece “At jarđa tey elskađu” being the best example. “Sinnisloysi“, on the other hand, focuses on Death Doom and does not feature any of the regular clean vocals; instead, growls and occasional anguished shouts are juxtaposed with soaring guest vocals by fellow Faroese singer-singwriter Eivřr Pálsdóttir which add greatly to the mournful atmosphere, especially towards the end of the song which even touches upon Funeral Doom. When asked about the best and most representative track, I would have to choose “Deyđir varđar” which really has it all: breathtaking melodies, calm passages with clean guitars, ultra-slow and heavy Death Doom riffs… The only disadvantage I see in comparison to the EP is that none of the new tracks is quite as intensely touching as the brilliant “At Enda” was.

With this full-length, Hamferđ prove that our hopes were not misplaced. There are few bands in the scene today which manage to come across so immediately emotional without any hint of the cheesy or embarrassing. Needless to say, this is not an album for old-school purists or those who enjoy the more tortured subgenres of Doom exclusively. But to everyone who is looking for a record to get immersed in, something to spend their lonely autumn nights with, I cannot recommend this album enough. In fact, I would be surprised if this band doesn’t end up being one of the biggest names in the scene a few years from now.

Reviewer's rating: 9/10


Tracklist :
1. Evst
2. Deyđir varđar
3. Viđ teimum kvirru gráu
4. At jarđa tey elskađu
5. Sinnisloysi
6. Ytst

Duration : Approx. 45 minutes

Visit the Hamferđ bandpage.

Reviewed on 2013-11-20 by Dominik Sonders
Rotten Copper
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