Whatever you think of the music, you have to send an acknowledging nod in the direction of Grey Aura. The kind of energy and diligence they have put into their self-released debut double album is astonishing.
The album carries the immensely long title 'Waerachtighe beschryvinghe van drie seylagien, ter werelt noyt soo vreemt ghehoort' (yeah, it's Dutch, in case you're wondering) and sets out to describe the journey of the Dutch seafarer Willem Barentsz who sought to find a northeastern passage to Asia during the late 16th century. Apparently, Barentsz reasoned that the 24-hour sun must of course melt the ice, so the water would be all clear for sailing north of Norway, Finland, etc. Well, it obviously wasn't.
Barentsz made three unsuccessful journeys northeast to find the passage, and he died on the return from the third, after having spent the winter stranded on the ice.
Grey Aura's project is simply wonderful. Their brand and sound of black metal is not totally my favourite brand and sound, although it certainly isn't true Norwegian black, but what is so wonderful is the fact that they have actually cast a crew of folk who enact captain Barentsz himself and a number of other characters who took part in the journey through the ice. They have also taken the trouble of doing field recordings, as they are called in the promo letter, to provide authentic sounds of the sea, wind, bonfires on the ice and the sailing ship. I love it. You can really sense how the two members of Grey Aura, Ruben Wijlacker and Tjebbe Broeck, have enjoyed making this project work and getting things just right - and that with no backing of a label or anything. Impressive.
If I were to point to the one track that convinces me the most, I'd probably go for Een Bevriezende Zee, the first track on CD two. Powerful hammer of a tune, I must say. Highly recommended.
Other than that, try to listen to this album for the drama and for the impressive dedication to offering (historically correct) detail. I wish more bands would put that kind of dedication into bringing history to life.