Metal is a universal language or at any rate, one that transcends nationalities and geographical boundaries. Hamferð hails from the Faroe Islands, a place not many in the US at least have likely heard of, let alone could locate on a map. For those geographically-limited, the Faroe Islands are an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark and located halfway between Iceland and Norway. The official language is Faroese, which presents certain challenges for reviewing albums and initially even figuring out how to spell the band’s name (which was copy/pasted into the review). Helpful hint for those wanting more info on the band you can search ‘Hamferd”. As for the sounds, I like the description the band uses on their Facebook bio about why the band was formed,
“to bring slow, crushing and atmospheric music to the Faroe Islands, the home to a bleak and depressive atmosphere that can only be properly communicated through the funeral march of doom metal”
Hamferð is a Faroese term for apparitions of sailors that appear before their loved ones, and conveys the overall sense of melancholy and harshness of life that has been historically part of the island people. The band formed in 2008 for a battle of the bands contest and recorded their first two songs for a demo in 2009, one of which was the #1 song in the Faroe Islands for three weeks in 2010. Since then, the band has played numerous festivals and even turned down a recording contract with Nuclear Blast records. Evst is the first full length album for Hamferð.
Sometimes it’s best to go into a review without knowing the genre when you don’t know the band as that takes away the preconceived notions and prejudices that inevitably arise. Granted when a metal album is over 45 minutes long and only has six songs, I should have at least suspected it was going to be some variation on doom metal, but I wasn’t thinking that clearly at the time. Those who know me, understand that doom is not my favorite genre, so it’s even more of a good thing that I didn’t know that going into the listening. “Evst” opens up the album and reveals the doom nature immediately with the pummeling guitar and slow opening verse. Production and overall sound of the album is excellent and really adds to the bleak atmosphere of the songs. About 1:30 into the song, clean vocals come in and take over from the deep, guttural death vocals and the contrast is amazing. Granted I’m not fluent in Faroese (ok, I don’t speak/understand it at all) but the emotion coming through in the clean vocals is simply striking. The overall tempo of the song is, for lack of a better term, doomy with the drums adding a definite punch, while the guitars and bass grind.
“Deyðir varðar” starts off with a melancholy, almost mournful sounding clean guitar intro that has an air of familiarity to it and then builds into the full band coming in over the top continuing the slow tempo. Clean, almost whispered vocals and that mournful guitar carry the verses with the rest of the instruments subdued in the background until the bridge and chorus-like sections when the vocals increase in volume. To my ears, this is when some of the goth-like overtones in their sound come out. The combination of the music and the soaring, clean vocals convey the dark bleakness the band is claims as their sound. Guttural, deep black/death spoken vocals come into play later in the song and again provide a stark contrast that simply works.
“Sinnisloysi” is not only one of the longer tracks on the album at over eight minutes but also has some other noteworthy features, the most striking of which are the incredible female backing vocals by Eivør Pálsdóttir that add more uniqueness to the vocals on the song. The main vocals alternate between the deep, rumbling death/black vocals and a near-ragged edge shouting clean vocals and the high, clean female vocals, while used sparingly add significantly to the overall sound and atmosphere of the song.
Overall this is a heavy, crushing album that envelops the listener in a mournful, sorrowful, bleak atmosphere. There are quiet moments reminiscent of solitude, moments of conflict, and throughout it all just the feeling of heaviness that is pervasive. The songs are well-crafted and expertly arranged and have an underlying sense of melody that lifts and carries heaviness along.
Written by John Jackson
2. Deyðir varðar
3. Við teimum kvirru gráu
4. At jarða tey elskaðu
Jón Aldará – vocals
John Egholm – guitar
Theodor Kapnas – guitar
Remi Johannesen – drums
Esmar Joensen – keys
Jenus í Trøðini – bass
“Vilst er Síðsta Fet” (EP) 2010
“Evst” (Full-length) 2013
Record Label: Tútl Records, Nov. 2013
Video (audio) for ‘Deyðir varðar’
Video (audio) for ‘Evst’