Review: Kvaen – The Funeral Pyre

The Swedish guy Jakob Björnfot is a session musician, he played on seven albums and one EP last year, and a live musician, currently for the US progressive metallers of Ghost Ship Octavius. You might also know him as former guitarist of the Swedish melodic death metal band The Duskfall or as guitarist/vocalist of the, also, Swedish band Autumn Death. Nowadays Jakob also has his own band, the solo project Kvaen. Kvaen may be Jakob’s solo project, there are some other people to be heard on Kvaen’s debut album, titled The Funeral Pyre, though. The drums are alternately played by Perra Karlsson, Freddy Ortscheid, Danni Lyse Jeelsgaard and Tommi Tuhkala, the vocals in Septem Peccata Mortalia and, partly, in Yee Naaldlooshii are sung by Pierre Törnkvist, who also wrote the lyrics of those two songs, and we hear guitarist Sebastian Ramstedt play a solo in the title track while fellow guitarist Matthew Wicklund does so in Hymn to Kvenland. The Funeral Pyre will be released via Black Lion Records on February the 28th.

With Kvaen Jakob plays black metal. Melodic black? Symphonic black? Thrash black? Old school Black? There are aspects of all these subsubgenres to be heard on The Funeral Pyre, without being able to fit this album in just one of those boxes. So, just black metal. Is it black metal that you like? To get that answer there’s only one option and that’s for you to check it out yourself. One thing I can tell you for now and that’s that it will definitely be worth your time.

Why? Okay, Jakob already has some experience in creating music, but The Funeral Pyre still is a debut. However, it certainly doesn’t sound like a debut, instead it sounds like a very strong album in which different black metal styles are meeting each other and strengthening each other in a very nice combination.

Whether it’s about the melodic or atmospheric guitars combined with the pounding drums, such as in the title track, Septem Peccata Mortalia and Bestial Winter, the sometimes returning symphonic effects, such as in the title track and As We Serve the Masters Plan, the thrashy riffs, such as in Revenge by Fire and The Wolves Throne, it all is perfectly combined on a basis of tight guitar riffs, mainly pounding, but at some moments also a bit more ritualistic sounding, such as in Yee Naaldlooshii, drums and sharpening, intense screams. All this is brought in a very energetic way, as can be heard very well in, for example, Revenge by Fire, Septem Peccata Mortalia, As We Serve the Masters Plan and Bestial Winter.

The fact that Jakob has been playing guitar for quite a while and that, due to this, Kvaen’s The Funeral Pyre, includes quite a lot of nice guitar work sounds quite logical and becomes, as aforementioned, quite clear. I haven’t mentioned one thing which can be heard on this album guitar-wise though and that’s the solos, of which there are a lot to be found on The Funeral Pyre. To give you some examples, be sure to check the title track, Septem Peccata Mortalia, The Wolves Throne, Bestial Winter and the very nice, very fitting instrumental album closer Hymn to Kvenland.

In my opinion Kvaen’s debut The Funeral Pyre became a very strong debut album and I recommend everyone who regularly listens to black metal to check out this album. It’s a very nice combination of the many different aspects black metal hosts!

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