Winter Embraced: A Conversation With Aðalsteinn Magnússon of AUÐN

Immersing one in the malevolent elegance of the Icelandic unit's latest outing.

Photograph by Daria Endresen

For as caustic as black metal proves to be, there are a select few that can bring the beauty out of it, like Iceland's AUÐN. Leave it to this talented six-piece to mesmerize one with radiant riffs and atmospheres, all the while battering away with sheer extremity. It's this seamless balance that makes their latest full-length, Vökudraumsins Fangi, such a captivating listen, even beyond just the music itself. Vökudraumsins Fangi, which arrived today via Season of Mist, comes complete with a wondrous cover painting by Víðir 'Mýrmann' Þrastarson, giving listeners a scene to lose themselves to. That said, the record fires on all ends and shapes up to be yet another gem that stems from the depths of Iceland.

We talk to guitarist/vocalist Aðalsteinn Magnússon on all things Vökudraumsins Fangi:

‘Vökudraumsins Fangi’ is here and after multiple listens through the new full-length, it appears you’ve managed to craft an effort that truly brings heart to the essence of melodic black metal. Now a decade since your inception, where are you all as a band compared to when this first started?

Magnússon: Thank you for your kind words. It has been a journey for us musically and personally as we’ve had the opportunity to travel the world and perform our music and, in doing so, enriching our bond and capability to create and write together. Being a group of close friends makes the creative side come more naturally. I even think we are on better terms musically most of the time than verbally. Jokes aside, the group as a whole is more stable now than we were when we first started. There‘s less tension and ideas are greeted with respect and consideration instead of criticism. 

Photograph by Daria Endresen

“Prisoner of the daydream,” as the album translates to in English, is an immersive listen that strays from the conventional tropes of the genre, which tends to be characterized as being a tremolo-picked riff affair. Musically, where did you look to take this record as you explore the concepts of a manufactured reality?

Magnússon: We didn’t set out with a goal in mind when we started writing. We were getting fed up with playing the same set over and over again and wanted a breath of fresh air. Decided to shake things up a bit and moved Hjálmar, our former bassist, to his native instrument on guitar and added bassist Matthías Mogensen to the fold. That change of pace was a vital factor in what we created on ‘Vökudraumsins Fangi', being able to layer guitars in ways we never did before and changing the structure of our songwriting. Musically, we delved further i