Gjest Baardsen

Anmeldt av Jens Nepper
(Self released, 2019)

Karakter: 4/6

Ævintyr Gjest Baardsen Album Cover.jpgOpening with a chilling beautiful intro ("Gud Trøste Meg") consisting of strings and a rather morose sample, it immediately becomes clear upon listening to this 9-track opus by the Norwegian ensemble known as Ævintyr that we are dealing with something heartfelt, passionate, and altogether different here. While the words and lyrics are by Gjest Baardsen (1791-1849) who just so happened to be one of Norway's most (in)famous criminals (he was imprisoned at Akershus Festning for eighteen years!), the music is a curious blend of progressive rock, classical music, and traditional Norwegian folk music. Considering that musicians from Lumsk and the chamber music ensemble known as Trondheimsolistene are involved, that should come as no surprise really.

The compositions have a unique atmosphere to them and despite the fact that there are countless other folk-inspired acts out there who hail from Norway, I cannot quite compare any of them to Ævintyr. The guitars, bass, and drums drive the songs forward and are highly prominent in the mix, but the strings and choirs add substance and a sense of fragility and beauty to them. The progressive tendencies are also quite prevalent and there are nods and parallels to the Canterbury scene such as the legendary Caravan due to the playful and unpredictable nature of some the melodies and riffs, but all in all, Ævintyr have managed to strike a good and interesting balance between various influences and genres in a convincing and original manner. The use of both female and male vocals also adds color and diversity to the proceedings, and the use of Norwegian lyrics entails that it all sounds authentic and honest.

"Gjest Baardsen" is an organic output and lacks neither variety nor imagination, but the heavier aspects of the band's sound could have done with a bit more power and bombast so as to stand out more and create even sharper contrasts within the tunes. Some tracks work better than others, which is to say that it is slightly uneven and not as solid as it could have been, but in the overall perspective, this is a memorable and noteworthy record that ought to appeal to those of you who appreciate and enjoy classical music, Norwegian folk, and (heavy) progressive rock. The moody cut entitled "Tunge Taarer" comes highly recommended if you desire a teaser.


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