Black Metal in many ways has reached yet another crossroads. There are those that abide by the strict guidelines set forth by the 90s and then there are those who have made sincere efforts to push forward. The latter group takes an immense risk, and that’s exactly what Sweden’s Hetroertzen have done with their latest work, “Ain Soph Aur.” To be quite honest I had not heard much from Hetroertzen until their previous album, “Exaltation of Wisdom” was reissued in 2011. A split with Norway’s fantastic Dødsengel followed a few short years after. Prior to all of this the band was residing in Chile and recording and releasing material as early as 2002. “Ain Soph Aur” marks the band’s second full length LP since their reemergence in Sweden and easily my most anticipated release of 2014.
A joint release by the impeccable Terratvr Possessions, Lamech Records, and Amor Fati, this album is without a doubt the most ambitious release in recent years. It’s been openly discussed and well publicized with much contention that fragments of the underground are opening up to a more esoteric approach to their art. The aforementioned labels and their artists seem to be wholeheartedly embracing the concept of transcending artistic limitation and manmade musical boundaries.
With the exception of the fourth track, “Endless Light,” which features vocals performed by Kark of the aforementioned Dødsengel Ain Soph Aur is masterfully orated by Frater D. (who also handles bass and drum duty for recordings). Frater’s vocals are performed almost entirely in an intoned, ritualistic voice with only a few slight deviations at times. There’s a seemingly deliberate level of clarity where one could very easily deduce that the twelve offerings praising the primordial state are meant to be taken as a collective of hymnals. Those unfamiliar with the vocal style I’m referring to should refer to the current work of Norway’s Mare. Guitarists Åskvader and Anubis weave together some absolutely haunting riffs. Their work showcased at the close of “Spirit Eater” is purely mind blowing. This is probably one of the best guitar duos that I’ve had the privilege of hearing in recent years. They work well together and you can see they share the same energy and ideas when it comes to songwriting. The album also features four instrumental pieces. The third, titled “Carrying the Forbidden Flame” was assembled and composed by none other than Edgar Kerval of Emme Ya himself. All four of these benefit the totality of the atmosphere well. If ever you could find yourself crushed under the weight of an atmosphere saturated with mysticism while still maintaining a heavy tone then “Ain Soph Aur” does just that.
The lyrical themes seem to deal with a range of subject matter ranging from vampiric concepts to various apocryphal texts. I do think this album allows for a bit of interpretation on the listener’s end and I strongly encourage people give it the time. Its clarity and presentation as well as its hour long length pretty much mandate that it be given some time. The band also handles their own artwork as well as the mixing of the album, which is done in their label’s own studio. Each art piece appropriately reflects the subject matter of the album and its collection of songs.
This album is essential. I waited quite some time to hear it and when I did I was not in the slightest bit disappointed. It not only met my own personal expectations, it exceeded them. I do think that for many people it might take a few attempts to get into as its presentation may come off as a bit eccentric to a lot of listeners. On all levels this album couldn’t possibly be more genuine and sincere. There’s no posturing or lying to be found. “Ain Soph Aur” does its title justice and comes very, very near to perfection.
Sacred is the legacy of the Serpent…
Hetroertzen’s “Ain Soph Aur” is available:
in the USA: