Mar 312023

Recommended for fans of: (early) Ulver, Panopticon, Wolves In The Throne Room

Well, I promised you two Synn Reports this month, and I always (well, sometimes) keep my promises.

So here’s a little extended feature about Afsky, the solo-project of one Ole Pedersen Luk, whose music – rich in rugged sonic textures and raw, unfiltered emotion – errs more towards the “atmospheric” side of the Black Metal spectrum, while still possessing a sense of primal power and passionate urgency that runs deep through each and every track.

Equal parts melancholic and majestic, and infused with sombre folk influences that add a brooding, soulful edge to each of the band’s albums – all three of which I’ll be talking about here today, while leaving their two EPs (their self-titled 2015 debut and their 2022 acoustic release, I stilhed) for you to discover on your own time – this is Black Metal that you really feel, right down in the marrow of your bones.

2018 – SORG

“Jeg Bærer Deres Lig”, the opening track from Afsky‘s first full-length album, soon sets the tone not just for the rest of the record but, arguably, for the rest of the band’s career.

Beginning with a series of sombre, drawn-out chords that simmer and fade in turn, only to eventually be replaced by an equally solemn sequence of desolate, distorted guitar work and simple, patient drums, the song eventually ignites in an explosion of hammering blastbeats and scathing, blackened riffage – all topped off with a ragged, reverb-heavy vocal performance and laced with misery-drenched leads – as it races towards its climactic, cathartic conclusion.

With “Skær” Luk then injects an even greater sense of darkness into the music, with the song switching back and forth between bleak, blasting intensity and ominous, doom-laden dread – intercut here and there with faint glimmers of melodic light – over the course of eight mesmerising minutes, before the gorgeously gloomy “Sorte Vand” – equal parts ecstasy and misery – sets out to simultaneously inundate you with sorrow while also lifting your spirits to soaring new heights.

On “Stjernerne Slukkes”, the album’s almost ten-minute long centrepiece, the music then embraces a more classically doomy tone whose grim grandeur is then eloquently offset by the veritable deluge of scorching Black Metal which follows – although keen-eared listeners will doubtless be able to pick out the mournful melodic undercurrent, not just in the twining, lead-like tremolo runs but also in the rumbling bass work that sits beneath it all – before the song ultimately collapses under the weight of its own intensity, concluding in an equally dark ‘n’ doomy, folk-infused finale.

This folksy feel then carries over, even more prominently, into the eerie introduction of “Vættekongen”, whose deceptively calm beginning then gives way to what is perhaps the most furious song on the entire album (albeit one which, cleverly, intertwines echoes of those opening melodies into its more scalding second half), after which the artful acoustic interlude of “Glemsomhedens” then provides a momentary breather before the absolutely magical “Oh Måneløse Nat” brings the whole album to a triumphant close.


While the six sinuous and scintillating tracks which make up Ofte jeg drømmer mig død definitely hearken back all the way to the early days of Black Metal in a lot of ways, that’s not to say that this is a dated or derivative piece of work – even if it does wear its influences and inspirations out on its sleeve.

Perhaps a better word for this particular sound would be “timeless” – if you’re willing to go that far – as Afsky are fully aware of whose giant footsteps their following in here (with much of Ofte jeg drømmer mig død owing a particularly heavy debt to the early Bergtatt/Kveldsanger/Nattens Madrigal era, works of Ulver) but aren’t afraid of doing so, in the hope of reinvigorating this classic sound for a whole new generation.

And I’ll be damned if they don’t do a hell of a good job of doing so on this album, which is an altogether more furious and aggressive record than its predecessor (as exemplified by the sheer intensity of opener “Altid Veltilfreds”, whose sombre, soothing intro offers little warning of the savage sonic storm to come), while still finding time and making space for moments of subtlety and nuance, such as the moody, minimalist break mid-way through “Tyende Sang” or the sublime acoustic introduction of “Stemninger”.

It also sounds better – somehow both dirtier and cleaner at the same time – with the drums displaying more raw power and energy, and the guitars possessing significantly more muscle, all of which gives songs like the relentless “Imperia” and the thrilling “Bondeplage” (which also features a hauntingly melodic finale) more weight and more bite this time around.

And, of course, there’s the fact that Ofte jeg drømmer mig død simply feels like a much more complete album – with nary a moment of wasted space or misapplied momentum to be found – making it incredibly easy to lose yourself for the entire forty-five minute run time, only to awaken from your reverie as the final lilting bars of captivating closer “Angst” (easily one of the best tracks the band have ever done) drift away into the ether.

Mark my words, this is a true blackened gem of an album, and well worth checking out the next time you’re in the mood for something which pays loving tribute to the early days of Black Metal, without being totally in thrall to them.


Afsky‘s third album – released earlier this month, hence today’s feature – is that little bit tighter, that little bit brighter (check out the way those acoustic notes positively shine during the intro to “Stormfulde Hav”) and also that little bit more powerful, than either of its predecessors.

The guitars sound thicker and more full, the bass tone is deeper and richer, and the drums have more presence, making this – perhaps – the most epic sounding album of the band’s career thus far.

Aforementioned opener “Stormfulde Hav”, for example, just sounds altogether bigger and more imposing than previous works, with both a heavier backbone and a more expressive melodic side (love the juxtaposition of ringing acoustics and writhing distortion), while the whirling riffs and storm-tossed drums which propel “Frosne Vind” possess an elemental energy which seems almost too much for the song to contain.

This sense of energy spilling out from each track is a big part of what makes this album so good, not just in the way that the propulsive momentum and primal ferocity of the music practically bursts out of the speakers at every turn, but also in the way that the mesmerising melodies and soul-stirring emotions underpinning every song (“Tak for Al”, for example, containing moments of terrible beauty and devastating despair in equal measure) are designed to leave their mark upon you long after the album is over.

There’s also a sense, to my ears at least, that the atmospheric, melodic, and metallic, sides of the band’s identity have been fused together even more tightly this time around – with both “Det der Var” and the thunderous “Tid” (which might just be my favourite song on the album) conjuring an over-arching sense of atmosphere, rooted in melody and sensation, that infuses the raging riffs and punishing percussion with even more passion and emotion – which in turn plays a major role in making Om hundrede år feel like so much more than just the mere sum of its parts.

Closing with the fantastic “Fred Være Med Støvet” – which first soars towards the heavens, only to come to rest amidst more sombre musical soil – this is one album that I promise you’ll see on a lot of “Best of the Year” lists come December. Of that I have no doubt.

  3 Responses to “THE SYNN REPORT (PART 157): AFSKY”

  1. Great summary! Shows that Black Metal can be blistering and introspective at the same time. Agree that OM HUNDREDE ÅR will be on year end lists!

  2. Afsky deserve all the attention and exposure the band can get. Just deeply emotional black metal throughout all 3 albums. Thanks so much for lifting this up!

  3. Afsky are just great all the way around, glad they’re getting some more attention.

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