Vera : Asmegin was formed late 1998 as Viking metal band in Norway with the intention to merge traditional romanticism - what we may hear in the folksy intermezzos - with metal. It is a rather vehement kind of metal with harsh grunts and clean male vocals evocative of Borknagar and Solefald, sometimes sturdy Viking harmonies as well. The biography mentions a seemingly endless number of line-up changes through the years. I end up with the conclusion that guitarist Marius Olaussen appears to be the only founding member left. He defines as main composer the biggest part of the band's sound, since he not only plays guitar but mandolin, accordion, piano and mellotron as well. Another musician who's in the band for quite a long time is Raymond Hakenrud (guitars, bass, vocals, piano).
In the Spring of 2003 Asmegin signed a contract with Napalm Records for four albums. That same year 'Hin Vordende Sod & So' came out, but singer Bjorn left the band even before the record's birth. He was soon replaced by contemporary vocalist/drummer Erik Fossan Rasmussen. Other musicians one can hear on 'Arv' ('Heritage' in Norwegian) are keyboardist Lars Fredrik Froislie, two female guest singers and a guest violinist. They have been working for years on 'Arv', since this is the first new work since 2003. Thus 'Arv' includes old songs as well as newer compositions.
It is not a simple mission to describe the music of Asmegin and I have listened many times to the album before get into action and write down my impression. The first two songs have the most female guest vocals and I do notice a kind of Slavonic touch. Dark grunts are alternated with sweet female vocals, while the brutal metal is interlarded with violin and accordion. The pace is rather low. That changes in 'Generalen Og Troldharen' in which lots of rhythm changes demand my full attention to be able to follow, because there are sturdy clean male vocals and grunts as well. Title track 'Arv' starts with melancholic violin sounds, guitars join in and clean vocals remind me of Solefald, a bit stilted indeed. Besides, on the previous album Lars Nedland (Borknagar, Solefald) was one of the guest vocalists. But there is scream-like metal with tribal drums and sonorous guitars too. And we can go on like this for a while, for every song has a huge variegation. Though it may be obvious that 'Gengangeren' is mainly based on piano and includes any gypsy-like violins. 'Prunkende, Stolt I Jokumsol' on the other hand is a calm song with female vocals. As closing track Asmegin combines everything in the nine minutes long 'En Myrmylne'. Here especially mellotron and the hearty seventies sound of the organ takes the eye. In addition the structure of this song - and this is tenable for more than only this one - verges to a progressive rock approach. This is also due to the frequent use of mellotron. Consequently 'Arv' is not an easy, catchy album to swallow, you need to invest some time to discover its charms. Even I am not sure whether this is great or just flirting with intricacies. Anyway, it will not take five years again to find out about the further evolution of Asmegin, because they are working hard on the successor right now: a double album 'Tusind Tabte Siaeles Kakofoni', (though I am a bit afraid when I look at that last word of the title).