Listening to Vår Avgrund — the latest album from the Swedish group Walk Through Fire — feels like… well, walking through fire. This scorching feeling continues for the entirety of the record’s well over one hour runtime. The release packs a searing slab of death/ doom, with monstrous, destructive riffs that have been dragged on and on in order to create a near-maximum physical and emotional impact.
Track two — which is called “Den Utan Botten” and is the first “full-length” song — sets the tone of the album quite powerfully. The song mostly hinges on a slow, steady barrage of cavernous riffs, propelled by earth-crushing basslines and grueling, sludgy drum rhythms. There’s an earthy heaviness in the sound, and this feeling does not let up. The riffs repeat and drag on and on, as if Walk Through Fire have captured an experience of suffering through a dark emotional cavern with no escape route to any kind of light. The track does have some dynamic variations — it’s not entirely drone, although structure-wise, it does lean that direction. These flourishes include the slowdown towards the end of the track, just after the six and a half minute mark. This slowdown does not lead into some kind of cathartic burst of energy — it reinforces the searing darkness.
“Vägar Mot Slutet” (track three) keeps a similar unrelenting song structure and introduces more dynamics. As the song proceeds, the sludge-scraping, low-tuned guitar barrage feels like it shifts a bit, as if capturing a slowly pulsating stab of tension. The concluding segments of the song feature a mournful saxophone performance from musician Malin Wättring, which introduces a kind of somber wistfulness into the mix, as if the album has already reached funeral dirge territory.
As the album goes on, all of the physically ferocious components of the sound feel like they’re wailing, as if musically capturing the misery of watching a tragedy unfold that you’re absolutely powerless to thwart. There’s enough thickness in the band’s sound that the tragedy in question could be apocalyptic, like some kind of meteor slamming into the earth. On the other hand, the wavering tension in these huge riffs and mournfully slow rhythms feels like it could capture alienating moments of very personal despair all the same. Walk Through Fire put a gut-clenching pain of loneliness on musical display.
As the album proceeds, the cloud of doom does not let up. Agonizing, slow riffs alongside jarring, restrained drum rhythms close out “Till Intet Gjord,” mostly with no vocal accompaniment. “Att Leva Är Att Lida,” meanwhile, features a broadened sound and a slightly quickened pace, with ample drama packed into the sound at every turn across the entire crushing album.
Vår Avgrund includes a hint of catharsis. Metaphorically letting go and floating into the void of the album’s emotional world can feel freeing. There’s also a magnificent power to behold.
Experience Vår Avgrund below: