Black metal supergroup Andavald dropped their debut, ‘Undir skyggðarhaldi,’ earlier this month, capping three years or work. It’s an imposing monolith of a black metal album—one designed to beat you down with no hope of help or return. To learn more, we sat down with Magnús Schram, main composer of the group, and his brothers in arms to go through the release track by track.
‘Forspil’ technically means an intro to a song, not an intro to an album. This song was actually not supposed to be on ‘Undir skyggðarhaldi.’ It was just an intro we made quickly for a concert. The piano part was recorded onto a cell phone on an old dilapidated piano in our rehearsal space. Þórir Óskar Björnsson from Dulvitund then worked some magic around it and it came out great. We put it on the album because it provided a framework for it.
It’s hard to put abstract thoughts into words, especially into English, but this album is like a journey, so each song is like a leg or a landmark. The first leg, ‘Afvegaleiðsla,’ is about being led astray, moving off the beaten track and into unchartered, hellish dimensions. The title is a play on words. It means being led astray, but could also mean trance.
The second leg of the journey, ‘Hugklofnun,’ is about being torn apart mentally and physical, losing touch with reality, losing your sanity, and surrendering yourself to a higher power. The title refers to being cleaved in two, but it’s really a word play about split personalities. The vocals on this song are very intense. Axel, our lead singer, took it all the way with his insane, manic laughter, and there’s nothing fake about it. He actually ended up in the hospital after recording it.
See, there were many obstacles when recording this album. Making it was a torturous three-year process and in it, we opened up a gate to something that we don’t understand. At least three of us lost our jobs and everybody lost their minds. We suffered financially, socially and mentally. Mostly mentally. Andavald is not an easy-listening experience. It’s definitely not for everyone. For us to surround ourselves with it for long periods of time took its toll.
IV. Undir skyggðarhaldi
The final leg is about being chained up in a nightmarish realm, yearning for salvation but finding no way out. That’s the essence of the whole album. ‘Undir skyggðarhaldi’ means being under a spell of darkness, being the captive of a shadowy presence. There is an outro on the album, but this is really the last song and it’s not the end. The album doesn’t have an end. It’s a journey, and you come to this song and you are under the spell but you don’t escape it. Hopefully, the next album will snap you out of it.
This is an outro that Dulvitund made. He just sent a file with, “Here’s something you can probably kill yourself to.” The conclusion was ‘Eftirspil.’ It’s a dreary epilogue to future journeys.
For more Track by Tracks like ‘Undir skyggðarhaldi’ by Andavald, click here.
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