Mar 232022

(Andy Synn checks out the new album from Kvaen, set for release Friday, to see if the band’s fire still burns as brightly)

I’d hazard a guess that most – if not all – bands, when they’re first starting out, do so with the dream that their first album is going to be the sort of massive breakthrough that instantly puts them on the map and establishes them as a force to be reckoned with.

What a lot of them probably don’t consider, however, is that this sort of instant, straight-out-of-the-blocks success can be both a double-edged sword and an albatross around your neck.

After all, I’m sure we can all name a number of bands whose debut immediately got them over with the fans but who, for whatever reason, never quite managed to achieve that same level of impact or intensity again.

Case in point, Kvaen‘s debut album, The Funeral Pyre, was unquestionably one of the best albums of 2020, one which seemed to come out of nowhere and immediately establish the band (in reality the solo project of multi-instrumentalist Jakob Björnfot) as a force to be reckoned with.

Two years have passed since then, however, and the impending release of the project’s second album, The Great Below, now has two major questions hanging over it… can lightning strike in the same place twice?

And, if so, can Kvaen capture it in a bottle once again?

Continue reading »

Dec 092021


Almost two years ago Black Lion Records released the killer debut album (The Funeral Pyre) by the Swedish band Kvaen. In the run-up to that release we premiered its title track, published an interview of the band, and launched a review by our Andy Synn which lauded the record as “a tight, forty-five (and a half) minutes of rip-roaring, Thrash and Speed injected, Black Metal that takes no prisoners and shows no mercy”. He wrote these words too:

“There’s just so much love, so much passion, so much fire (and ice) driving this album that you can’t help but fall in love with it. It’s fearless, shameless, and absolutely relentless, in its pursuit of pitch-black perfection, throwing in more riffs, more hooks, and more epic, extravagant solos (trust me, when you reach that point in the title-track you’ll know what I’m talking about) with the sort of reckless abandon that suggests its creator is either a madman or a genius (and I know which one I’m betting on). Inarguably one of the best albums, front to back, to have been released so far this year”.

And so we’re understandably pretty damned excited to help spread the word that Kvaen‘s madman/genius creator Jakob Björnfot (along with an eye-opening lineup of guests) is returning with a sophomore full-length that the same Black Lion Records has set for release on March 25th of next year. The new one is named The Great Below, and once again we’re delighted to host the premiere of its title song. Continue reading »

Mar 062020


(In this post you’ll find a collection of reviews by Andy Synn, focusing on seven black metal albums released during the first two months of the year.)

It’s now just over two months into 2020 and I am already ridiculously behind when it comes to covering new albums.

That’s a particularly galling admission to make considering how great some of the records you’re about to read about are, many of which I’ve been listening to religiously since the start of the year but which, for various reasons, I’ve not gotten around to writing about before now.

Still, the advantage of grouping all these records/reviews together is that if you happen to already like one (or more) of these artists already then there’s every chance you’re going to discover something else to love too.

So, without further ado… Continue reading »

Jan 032020


(Our Norway-based contributor Karina Noctum brings us the following Q&A she had with Jakob Björnfot, the man behind the Swedish black metal band Kvaen, whose debut album is set for release on February 28th by Black Lion Records.)

The Funeral Pyre, the debut album from Swedish melodic pagan black metal unit Kvaen, is slated to drop on February 28, 2020, through Black Lion Records. No Clean Singing hosted (here) the premiere stream of the album’s title track. Clocking in at nearly 7 minutes of relentless exhilaration, the track features a guest guitar solo by Sebastian Ramstedt (Necrophobic, Nominon) and drums by Freddy Ortscheid (Black Lily, Omnicide).

Adds Jakob Björnfot, the sole mastermind behind Kvaen: “’The Funeral Pyre’ was one of the first songs that I composed for this album. I lived in a big house on a huge mountain in the VERY north of Sweden. I had nature around me everyday. It was very inspiring, to say the least. One day, I was messing around on my computer, trying out ideas. I remember that I had the fireplace burning and it was snowing outside. I wanted to write a song where I could feel the connection of spirits in Tornevalley and I have to say: I succeeded. The atmosphere, Sebastian’s solo, and the lyrics became something truly unique.”

I put more questions to Jakob: Continue reading »

Dec 062019


Kvaen is the solo project of Swedish musician Jakob Björnfot, whose resume includes membership in The Duskfall and Autumn Death, as well as live performances with other noted bands. In this new project, he turns his talents to fast-paced black metal with Pagan and Viking Metal influences, drawing upon both Norwegian and Swedish traditions from the ’90s and upon inspirations emanating from deep mountain forests and cold valleys of the northland.

Kvaen’s debut album, The Funeral Pyre, will be released on February 28th by Black Lion Records, and today we’re presenting the album’s absolutely thrilling title track. Continue reading »