Is Grand Rapids, Michigan currently home to the best black metal scene in America? Seems counterintuitive, but the evidence is overwhelming. The country’s best micro-indie label, Colloquial Sound Recordings, operates out of Grand Rapids — and with it, such acts as A Pregnant Light, Dressed In Streams, and Aksumite (all of which are legit, buy-it-now essential). And now, Ifing: a black metal duo (Fritz Petersen and Tim Wicklund) from Grand Rapids set to release their debut LP, Against This Weald, on the Finnish label Blood Music. (Do all these guys know each other? They must, right? Grand Rapids can’t be that big. Also worth mentioning: The city is home to one of the world’s best craft breweries, too: Founders. Coincidence?) The name Ifing is cribbed from Norse mythology, and the band’s sound is chiefly informed by bands who crib from Norse mythology: Bathory, Winterfylleth, Nokturnal Mortum, Windir. This is epic black metal in the truest sense, rich with medieval-sounding melodies, synth-y atmospherics, and sonic elements of traditional folk, all building to ripping, blizzard-level climaxes. In some ways, Against This Weald reminds me of Aura, the 2013 debut release from the awesome Swiss band Bölzer: Both are massive, real-as-fuck metal albums that consist of three songs, and both seemed to come out of absolutely nowhere only to sound 100-percent essential upon arrival. Today we’re premiering Against This Weald’s 18-minute closing number, “Realms Forged,” and below that, I’ve included track 2 on the album, “The Stream,” which debuted in the UK last month. They’re as good as any metal I’ve heard this year — and it has been a great year for metal. I can’t stop listening to them, and I can’t recommend highly enough that you do the same.
Against This Weald is out 5/6 via Blood Music.