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To most, traditional black metal is seen as something "pure," something harsh and minimal to a skeletal frame. There is a validity in that, and it could be applied to the classics which defined the genre. However, black metal is so much more than just a framework-based style. Yes, riffs are important, and, sure, abrasiveness is key, but there are so many styles which rely on a similarly stark skeleton. What sets black metal apart is simple: it is atmosphere. All the repetition, monotony, harsh sounds -- it all boils down to this all-encompassing idea that Minimalism in repeating layers creates something unmistakable and haunting.

When it comes to black metal nowadays, this might not be the case entirely. To risk sounding like an old man, there are the beasts of overproduction and underproduction which don't fully represent the perfection of the "classic black metal atmosphere," and the bands who actually achieve the sound are so few and far between. Sweden's Grá hearkens back to that classic age of atmospheric clarity as an end-game and not necessarily a single element (here's looking at you, hyper-raw black metal bands). The band's fourth record, Väsen, finds themselves embodying black metal's intended brackish purity. A hypnotic affair in and of itself, Grá's multiple parts fit together like a mystical equation which results in purely sumptuous black ambiance. Listening to this is akin to rediscovering black metal all over again.

Väsen will be released through Carnal Records on CD and Digital formats on April 27, with vinyl following this Autumn. Listen to "Krig" below.

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Follow Grá on Facebook and Bandcamp.

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