Utstøtt is not shy about its influences. On its Bandcamp page, the lines “A one man Epic Black Metal band from Oregon in the styling of Summoning, Windir, and Caladan Brood” greet any potential listener. If you are familiar with at least two of those bands, one can safely assume Hjørungavågr, the debut album from this one man project, will probably contain music similar to its influences. I mean, the cover is already stepping in line to be similar visually with Summoning and Caladan Brood. This should be easy to assess right? Though Utstøtt is very open about its influences, I feel Hjørungavågr is sold short if thought of as a third rate clone of previous bands.
Before I begin, I feel I must admit my undying loyalty to solo bedroom black metal projects. I feel the individuality and escapism that is achieved by one person surrendering themselves over to a world is fascinating to hear. This is why I think it works so well with its latent and sometimes obvious fantasy angle. Utstøtt is not of this world and the lands of Hjørungavågr is pure escapism. The prominent synth atmosphere is key to achieving this effect though Utstøtt does not rely on keyboards as much as Caladan Brood or Summoning. Hjørungavågr makes use of the constructed world through a variety of percussion and guitar work which compliment the synth backdrop. Songs like “Skjønnhet av Fólkvangr” and “Storsalen av Eik” are empowered by the long song structure as more time spent in the hazy ether of another world could only be a benefit.
Hjørungavågr has a charm which works in its favor. The production for the record is still raw and its bedroom qualities can not be masked. Because of this, the warm escapism and geeky obsession by its creator only does wonders to make this an enjoyable record. The influences which mark this Bandcamp page are important but in no way guide Hjørungavågr to any predictable conclusion. Utstøtt is a capable creator and the experience of Hjørungavågr is nothing short of fantastic.