I was on vacation last week so I didn’t get any reviews written, but one of my favorite things to do while passing time at the beach is to stare out over the ocean and listen to bands I haven’t heard before. There’s something so relaxing about watching the waves crash onto the beach while letting undiscovered music wash over me. So before leaving town I made sure to stock up on previously-unheard bands. For beach listening I prefer grand and ethereal type music, so I tend towards black metal and funeral doom. One of the albums I brought with me was “Against This Weald” by Ifing.

Ifing first stood out to me because they hail from Grand Rapids, Michigan, my former home state. Whenever I learn about a band from Michigan I always try to give them a listen. I also read an article about the band, I believe it was in Terrorizer, which made me very interested to hear this duo.

Taking their name from Norse mythology and the great river that separates Asgard from Jotunheim, Ifing play a similarly Scandinavian style of black metal with heavy folk and nature themes. Taking inspiration from such things should come as little surprise as Michigan, like Norway, has a cooler climate and plenty of trees and wilderness.

“Against This Weald” contains only three songs, but it still manages to clock in at a respectable 36 minutes. The album opens with a four-minute instrumental, “The Sired Beyond Await”, and then moves on to the 13-plus minute track “The Stream” before finishing with the 18-and-a-half minute “Realms Forged.”

Ifing awoke my interest during the haunting instrumental track, and then the second track began in an old-school black metal style. I wondered which way they would go with the vocals; would they break my concentration with some horribly clashing harsh vocals? Clean vocals? These next few moments were going to be the key to my ability to enjoy this album. The music was certainly grand enough, but would it all flow together well? Then, at the 57 second mark, the harsh vocals kicked in. I breathed a sigh of relief, as while the vocals are harsh, they blend perfectly with the music. Rather like Garm on the first Arcturus album, but perhaps a little less intense. Around the three minute mark some clean vocals are introduced and they added yet another layer of interest to what was quickly becoming a worthwhile listen.

“Against This Weald” contains moments of passionate black metal fury as well as heaping servings of melodic instrumental wonder. It satisfies the desire for that old school Arcturus-style black metal, while utilizing the benefits of fuller-sounding modern production. Fear not, though I proclaim this modern, this is not a dried up digital, desiccated husk; lush atmosphere abounds.

By the time I finished my first pass through the album I knew I was onto something good. Now, as I am finishing up my third pass I have acquired a level of comfort and familiarity that allow me to confidently profess my adoration of “Against This Weald.” In simpler terms, you should check these guys out. Lucky for you, Blood Music, the band’s label, posted the 18-minute epic “Realms Forged” to YouTube, so you can listen to that below. You can also head over to Bandcamp and name your price for the album. You can’t beat that.