It’s a testament to heavy music’s relentlessly splintering and cross-pollination that a seemingly specific tag like ‘funeral doom metal’ no longer necessarily indicates a pre-defined sound or vibe. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that Hamferð emit a distinctive air; this band hail from the Faroe Islands, which are located midway between Norway and Iceland, 200 miles north of the Scottish coast. If you’re looking for a band with an intuitive grasp of windswept melancholy, you have plainly come to the right place. Throughout its wonderfully immersive 44 minutes, you can almost hear the bitter windchill coursing through Támsins Likam’s nebulous core. Of course, an overriding atmosphere of extreme ice-olation is fairly common in funeral doom, but where many of the subgenre’s current progenitors aspire to Shape Of Despair’s impossibly graceful but no less crushing widescreen approach, these songs have far more in common with the fervent mysticism of Negura Bunget, Neurosis’s momentous disquiet or Enslaved at their most intrepid. The result is remorseless in its bewitching otherness but intermittently familiar and, more importantly, melodic enough to lure in the curious.
Opener Fylgisflog sets the tense but deeply satiating tone across nine languorous minutes, vocalist Jón Aldará’s hellish growls contrasting beautifully with his sonorous tenor howl: grim, primal rage and dignified humanity in a slow-motion dance to the bitter end. A more erratic, tribal pulse drives Stygd along, but once again Jón’s interjections tether the mounting despondency to a tearful heap of flesh and blood as a ghostly choir booms ominously in the background. The remaining four tracks are equally joyous in their lack of atmospheric restraint, the inherent honesty that drives Hamferð’s collective power rescuing even the most thunderously heavy moments, closing epic Vápn í Anda in particular, from over-egged excess. Head to toe, this is a stunning triumph from a truly unique band.