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Ûngrûn – Itjinge Tonei Barre Scil

Ûngrûn – itjinge tonei barre scil


Friesland may be a province situated in the north of the Netherlands, but in a lot of ways it can be seen as a country within a country. The origins of the inhabitants, the Frisians, date back to the descriptions documented by the Romans. At that time known as the Frisii, they consisted of Germanic tribes that populated a region between the present-day cities Bremen and Bruges. As the Romans marched through Europe, the Frisii withstood their advance, only to eventually join the Frankish and Saxon peoples. It left the original homeland abandoned, until descendants of the Frisii repopulated the region centuries later in the early Middle Ages. Withstanding the invasion of the Vikings, Frisia retained its freedom until 1523 when it was incorporated into the Netherlands. This vast history of independence comes with its own folklore and language, both of which serve as the basis for the music of Ûngrûn.

Like the Frisian history, Ûngrûn had its beginning some time ago. Featuring (ex) members of Verwoed, Dool, Lugubre and Kjeld, the first seeds for the debut album were sown as early 2011. But despite drum recordings dating back to 2015, it would take until late 2023 for the band’s debut album ‘Itjinge Tonei Barre Scil’ (‘The Same Thing Will Happen’) to be released. Some teasers were released in the mean time however, in the shape of a demo in 2019 and a single in 2020, but now we can finally dig our teeth into the band’s first full-length of Frisian Pagan Black Metal.

At first glance one could describe the music on ‘Itjinge Tonei Barre Scil’ as high pace Black metal, but that wouldn’t justify the richly layered music of Ûngrûn. Besides the Lugubre albums, opener ‘Sêdde Fen Har Flêsk’ also reminds me of Swedish Black Metal and in particular of Mortuus-era Marduk, with its blistering pace adorned with twisting melodic riffs. But those that delved into the demo will know that is a shortsighted view of their style. In the following ‘Fortard Troch It Swird’ a more militant and commanding style, rooted in bands likes of Funeral Mist, Immortal and Mayhem can be heard, but after a howling solo and atmospheric break, the band manages to infuse a strong sense of Pagan worship as well. This feeling is further enforced by the clean background vocals in the subsequent title track, and in particular the way how these float on the guitar melodies adds an ancient aura to the song.

The band’s demo had a strong dissonant undertone in the style of Mayhem, but even more so that of the Icelandic bands Svartidauði and Sinmara, and this sound surfaces more as the album progresses. ‘It Oardiel Waerd Hjarren Jown’ and ‘Neffens Hjar Wirken‘ certainly lean more towards this sound, and additionally have some skincrawling rhythms in the vein of Hate Forest as well. But by keeping subtle floating melodies interlaced in the tracks, Ûngrûn continue to add a sense of nostalgia and melancholy to the at times frantic, disorienting or blasting sections. And the eerie strumming break with vocal excellence in the vein of Mayhem’s Attila (or reminiscent of the opening track of Celestial Bloodshed’s splendid ‘Omega’ album) in ‘Neffens Hjar Wirken‘ deserves a specific word of praise as well. ‘Linnen Fen ‘e Hilligen’ and ‘Dy Deis Scil It Barre’ add a bit of groove in the vein of Carpathian Forest and Craft and especially the latter song has a beautifully haunting ending, eventually flowing over in the entrancing and more midpaced closer ‘Gjin Wierheit Is Yn Him’, the bleakest song of the album.

While it may read as if there is no clear direction, instead I would argue that the different Black Metal influences come together quite splendidly, with in particular the waves of simple but effective melodies tying everything together. The Pagan undertone gives the music a sense of longing to times long past, transporting the listener to a time where Friesland was a much more primal and deserted place where nature was the true ruler of the lands. ‘Itjinge Tonei Barre Scil’ has been given a clear mix where the layers of instruments, vocals and melodies are easily distinguished and do justice to the individual parts. This allows up to fully immerse ourselves in this picture that Ûngrûn sketches. A picture painted in Black Metal elements that portray ancient Frisia, in a harsh, desolate and enchanting glory.


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