The black metal coming from Iceland continues to assume more and more importance along with the various facets that each band or solo project ends up exhibiting. Almyrkvi is one of the last fruits of a land apparently arid and hostile, but terribly rich from the artistic point of view: the band was born from a rib of the already known Sinamara, whose guitarist Garðar S. Jónsson takes charge of the entire composition and instrumental compartment. Jónsson takes charge of the entire composing and instrumental compartment, with the exception of the drums entrusted to the already tested adventure partner Bjarni Einarsson. Even the definition of black metal is gradually assuming different meanings depending on the angle from which it is looked at and, perhaps, sometimes ends up appearing even reductive: in Umbra, in fact, there are cosmic and experimental drives that can refer to Blut Aus Nord but also to the more recent Monolithe (which certainly do not play black metal), but all done in such a compelling and personal way to recommend the reader to take these quotes only as a general indication of the type of sounds contained in the work. Jónsson’s work strikes for its maturity and quality and, where the adjective atmospheric risks to be used inappropriately, the interpretation of the genre by Almyrkvi is certainly very far from the traditional one: here there is a constant scent of icy menace that, when it seems to calm down, suddenly bursts into sudden explosions, almost as if the sound flow corresponded to those wonderful naturalistic anomalies that are geysers, so widespread along the restless volcanic soil of the island. Talking about the single tracks is an exercise to which I shirk, believing that Umbra is a work to be listened to as if it were a single long track; I’ll just say that the opener Vaporous Flame is perhaps the softest and most accessible moment of an album that, starting from the next Forlorn Astral Ruins, turns into a terrifying flow of black lava, to which contributes the remarkable growl of Jónsson, fine musician to which Einarsson does not miss a decisive rhythmic support. One of the most beautiful surprises of the year, it’s just a pity to have listened to this album when the charts were already drawn up, because, for what it’s worth, it would have found its place very high indeed.
2017 – Ván Records
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