I love Black Metal, and I will be honest, for the most part I think the Swedes do it best. I know that might not sit well with everyone but, hey, music is subjective. You may have guessed from my opening sentence, Grafvitnir are Swedish, apparently from the dark forests of their homeland. It really wouldn’t surprise me if they actually do live in the forest, not in houses in the forest but, actually, you know, just in the forest! They sound that frostbitten and grim.
I feel like I am generalizing here. Swedish Black Metal artists are a bit more concerned with melody than other countries. From the more known outfits like Dark Funeral or Watain, to the much more cult-like in status Craft, they all incorporate a large dose of melodic nous to their art. Melody, if done right, is always welcome, right? Make no mistake though, melodic they may be, Grafvitnir are brutal and relentless.
Key to the Mysteries Beyond is the bands fifth full length and definitely makes me want to go back in time and see how they have evolved. There is nothing new to offer here, but it’s the quality of the offering that is what matters, and there is lots of it. Most black metal albums are best taken as a whole in one sitting whenever possible, and this is no exception. There are some highlights though, namely ‘Vargavinter’ and ‘Eye of Lucifer,’ the latter having an almost Black ‘n Roll feel like the aforementioned Craft with riffs that will burrow in to your brain.
Yes, the vocals are of the usual black metal snarl, the drums mainly blast away constantly, and the guitars tremolo pick their way around passages that sound like Euronymous has returned from the grave. However, when the material is played with as much conviction and commitment as this audibly is, it is hard not to enjoy it. Fans of the second wave, this one is for us!