Hamferð are a haunting doom metal group from the Faroe Islands comprised of members Jón Aldará doing vocals, Ísak Petersen on bass, Theodor Kapnas & John Egholm on guitars, Esmar Joensen on keys & Remi Johannesen on drums. The band formed in 2008 and have since released three full length albums, the latest of which being the poignant ‘Támsins Likam’ made public only a few days ago which I have the pleasure of reviewing in this article, as well as several single releases.
The first track of the album Fylgisflog sets a particularly mournful tone from the very first minute, which is not surprising from an ensemble whose band name means the apparition of one’s deceased beloved. The track leads in with a quiet sombre plucking & drawing of strings, eventually accompanied by soft yet harrowing vocals, drawing a picture of acute despair. Then halfway through this 9 minute track the sound shifts to a devastatingly intense doom metal domain. The track is an emotive force of desperation, painting a picture of pure brutal anguish which encapsulates your soul entirely from the start with a depressive combination of slow damning instrumental work with a combination of clean forlorn vocals & wretched growls layered over the top. It was at this point in the album I decided to take a break, showing how truly soul-crushing a sound they’d successfully engineered.
Stygd abides by the tone set with a dark introductory solemn chanting period followed by the augmentation of slow demonic growls in perfect harmony with the simplistic guitar melody & basic though undoubtedly dismal percussion work. Aldará then adds in some sonically beautiful clean pain-riddled vocals to the mix before a short bridge of instrumental solo proceeding the return of the malevolent growls. I’d like to use the terms rise & fall to the back & forth between two vocal styles & their escorting instrumental styles but with such a style of music I’d say using the term ‘rise’ may be a reach. The song then ends in a very similar manner to how it begun.
The third track on the album is Tvístevndur meldur, it comes in a lot more structured in regards to a solid unyielding beat to it, focusing on the heavier instrumental elements of the band than the specifically melancholic aura it had been showcasing in the first two tracks, make no mistake though the grief heavy imagery is still very much a factor to the experience.
Then making its delicate entrance comes Frosthvarv, the vast majority of which is an elegantly mellifluent and emotive clean suspension of woe and wonder, it is not until almost 3 minutes in that an oppressive change in feel occurs, opting then for a period of slow heavy instrumental work soon joined by a brief yet effective harsh vocal portion guiding the song to its near finish. We then come to Hon syndrast, a brutal track contrasting drastically with the one before it, going for an almost doom-yet-death metal sound initially with harsh remorseless periods of savagery throughout, save for the occasional doleful soaring insertion of almost operatic vocal work.
The final song on the album, Vápn í anda, also happens to be the longest of the album. At almost 11 minutes long it begins with an intro of despondent almost whispered or spoken word vocals alongside an almost non-existent melodic strumming, leaving one with an eerie uneasy sense regardless of the enchanting nature. The song then shifts at about 4 minutes in to a distinctively doom feel, clean vocals now gone, guitars rise but don’t overpower, percussion slow yet powerful, there is an almost blackened feel to the song brought about by the vocal technique as the track develops nearer to the end of the piece, a touch of gothic themes in the background even if you listen close enough. The sound then abruptly reverts to a simple albeit it drawn out outro not unlike the intro experienced in the beginning of the album, strumming & drawing of strings & what sound like faint piano work if I am not mistaken, blended in together so well it almost escaped me.
This album to say the very least moved me to the point of almost being unable to write down just what I was feeling whilst experiencing it, truly I enjoyed every second of desolation & inner turmoil the masterpiece caused me to endure. To say I’d undergo it all over again as well as recommend this album to anybody with such tastes (or even those without to expose them to the quality and damn near trance-like state this album puts forward) would be an the understatement of the century, bravo Hamferð, you’ve create an unforgettable auditory experience I’ll not soon forget!!
Get your hands on your very own copy HERE!