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Black Ice - 90%

torchia, March 3rd, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Terratur Possessions (Digipak)

Emerging from a scene consistently active far longer than most of the on-trend webzines and ten a penny, hip writers would have you believe, Misþyrming are another Icelandic troupe riding the crests of the mercilessly biting waves that have been battering the barren shores of the underground the last while.

The slightest whiff of this particular strain of Nordic gloom sees completist black metal devotees scrambling over limited-run releases and coloured vinyl peddled by zealous labels who, complete with the requisite loftiness, must surely believe all their birthdays have come at once.

On top of this, there has even been some mention that the scene's would-be godfathers, Svartidauði and Sinmara, peaked far too early, missing out on the cool factor that now wafts about Icelandic black metal. Overall, though, none of this conjecture seems to have detracted from the fact that those bands' respective full-lengths remain this particular coven's benchmark releases to date.

However, Misþyrming's 'Söngvar elds og óreiðu' is no mere addition to the Icelandic sound, wielding as it does a character-rich throb that grants its own identity, peppered with apt nods to the aforementioned scene seniors. While the record opens with a typically pummelling, abrasive onslaught that does encourage chatter about Svartidaudi similarities, Misþyrming's sound is rather less crisp; just audible amid the murk, some intelligent riffing is disappointingly lost. Whether or not this was intentional remains a mystery.

Though the record's earliest offerings labour tirelessly to engage the listener, it isn't until track five, 'Er haustið ber að garði', that Misþyrming appear to truly open up and demonstrate their own adept musicianship. Several tracks' slower sections betray a knowledge of bona fide, bass-heavy groove that works excellently to glue together the more standard proceedings, and while frenzied riffing abounds, subtle ambiances play beneath the nebulosity. Interestingly, it may also be hazarded that there are almost post-punk elements existing in some of the album's mid-tempo segments.

Business is bound together with expectedly competent yet quite standard percussion, which acts more so as buttressing, as opposed to an element with its own presence. Affairs are further underpinned by laudable attempts to conjure the malevolent spirit of Arioch/Mortuus of Funeral Mist/Marduk to aid in the choral department, making for some truly and fittingly possessed emanations from vocalist D.G.

In essence, 'Söngvar elds og óreiðu' is a substantial and layered presentation, many of those layers only revealing themselves after several digestions. Added to this, quirky interludes and a fantastically ominous outro go further yet to prove that the Icelandic cult undoubtedly knows a thing or two about crafting real black metal. This is a record well worth the absorption time.