Byfrost - Of Death
AFM Records
Thrashened Black Metal
8 songs (37:34)
Release year: 2011
Byfrost, AFM Records
Reviewed by Aleksie
Hailing from that hallowed point of Norse mythology between Asgard and Midgard…Oh wait, from Norway, that is…Byfrost brings us a heady brand of extreme metal that first off emits the vibe of mid-90s black metal (the variety that did not embrace synthesizers that much) but also borrows large doses from the European wave of 80s thrash metal without forgetting the occasional left field experiment either. Immortal’s Damned In Black feels like a somewhat appropriate reference point to Of Death, Byfrost’s second album.

May The Dead Rise starts the album with a thrashariffic beating that also grooves nicely on occasion. Singer/guitarist HeavyHarms (yes, you read that correctly – also take note of bassist R.I.P Meister and drummer Alkolust) employs the kind of hoarse bark that prominently reminds me of Tom Angelripper with maybe a hint of scraggly yet devilish ol’ Abbath in there. Despite the frantic riffage that can get quite technical from time to time, the vibe is very raw throughout. This is amplified by the production job that has the kind of searing edge that Kreator’s stuff from the 80s while still somehow sounding like it was made in the 2000s. If I had to nitpick, I’d like more bass but I’m a more-demanding-than-average bastard on that front.

After the flattening start the band brings the variety. Eye For An Eye mixes the blastbeats and bouncier grooves. Buried Alive is the kind of mid-tempo stomper that would be right at home on Sodom’s M-16. The title track kicks around with the tempos and rhythms in manner that ever so lightly recalls Meshuggah. Shadow Of Fear goes doomy for the intro before switching into a more crushing pace of march-like beats and head-on thrashing. Sorgh is the real oddball of the bunch, providing effect-laden guitars, keyboards, a fuzzy spoken word part repeated numerous times and a mood that even resembles ambient, something like a heavier, murkier Pink Floyd. I feel it’s the kind of left field offering that people are either going to really embrace as adventurous or be completely weirded out by in the middle of all the bludgeoning metal. It also acts as an intro track (and admittedly a too long one as such) to the closing track, All Gods Are Gone. The tune is the longest one here at over 6 minutes and distinctly feels the most ambitious with more churning, grandiose riffs. It falls a bit flat in its seemingly epic attempts but can’t blame the guys for trying.

Overall, the dudes of Byfrost display very different sides of themselves on Of Death. On the one hand they bring the old school-flavoured extreme metal with great skill. On the other hand, they go all over the place in the confines of that extreme style and even stretch beyond it to unexpected directions. Most of these experimental attempts need further refining to really knock people out of their socks but with a powerful grasp of the basics already, these Norwegians have great potential for the future.

Killing Songs :
May The Dead Rise, Of Death & Full Force Rage
Aleksie quoted 74 / 100
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