The Swedish duo known as Murdryck began musical life in 1999 as a “Blackened Dark Ambient” project, disappeared for a time, and then rejuvenated themselves as a Black Metal band in 2014. Thereafter, they released two excellent albums, 2016’s Antologi MMXV (reviewed here at NCS) and 2019’s Födelsen. And then, to the sorrow of Murdryck’s fans, they disbanded. But it turns out that the two men behind Murdryck weren’t finished after all.
That duo — bassist/vocalist Lars Hansson and guitarist Adam Chapman — came back together early this past summer, inspired to renew their cooperation in pursuit of fresh ideas. Adopting the name Åskog, they ensconced themselves in a decrepit forest house owned by Lars deep in the woods of Värmland and wrote four songs between July and August. As they explain, the themes of the music were spawned by the band’s presence in that old forest house, with its own morbid history and its wilderness setting, during a time when the Covid-19 pandemic turned the world into chaos: “You only have to watch nature documentaries to realize the natural world is truly a horrific place. The great outdoors is romanticized, but the reality is it is brutal with no room for concession or concern.”
But what kind of music was born of this reunion, and Åskog’s focus on the cold and harsh brutality of nature? You are about to find out, because today we’re streaming Varg, Åskog‘s first demo, on the eve of its October 17 release. In its digital edition, it includes two of the four songs written this past summer, and a cassette tape edition will include a third one as a bonus.