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Of Fire and Chaos - 100%

TheSlayFer, May 14th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2015, Digital, Independent (Bandcamp)

Misþyrming are the most recent and acclaimed band to come out of the impressive metal scene of Iceland and for good reason which is their 2015 opus; “Söngvar elds og óreiðu”.

This album is considered a modern masterpiece and I for one very much agree with that sentiment. Founder and multi-instrumentalist D.G. with this album has created one of the most dynamic, bold and forward thinking album in black metal and the results speak for themselves; the album starts at eleven with 3 relentless tracks which display the full extent of D.G.’s talent and vision, these tracks are both a tribute to the Black metal of old while also containing bold experimentation in the melodic and ambient department. All the instruments except for the drums are handled by D.G. and he makes full use of his skills, flexing his musical chops to the fullest extent. The drumming by H.R.H. is also excellent and worth noting, he displays the mandatory fast and aggressive blast beats while also switching his drum patterns for the slower and more morose sections of the album, keeping the beat and maintaining the pace.

This careful balance between raw aggression and experimentation is what best describes this album as a whole, it seamlessly switches from chaotic riffing and tremolo picking to complex and layered melodic dirges. The opening track “Söngur heiftar” is easily one of the best tracks and displays that balance I mentioned earlier. D.G.’s guitar playing is the standout here alongside his howling vocals which take the album into a whole different level, the guitar playing itself is more than just the tremolo picking fest most expect from black metal and it shows, songs like “Söngur uppljómunar” take a very folk like direction and plays a lot with distorted melodies. Another very interesting aspect about this album are the two dark ambient tracks that in D.G.’s own words serve as an interlude and epilogue which bind the album together, these tracks enrich the already excellent album with each serving as a break from the chaos and madness created by the music and unlike some other uses of interludes they are full and complete tracks that can be heard on their own.

Despite having a full band for live performances, this is D.G.’s project and creative vision through and through and as a whole this album is proof of that laser focus vision fully made manifest. Misþyrming is a force to be reckoned with and show the most promise out of all the Icelandic scene.

Best tracks: Söngur heiftar, Friðþæging blýþungra hjartna, Ég byggði dyr í eyðimörkinni.

Challenging, creative, wildly inventive. - 88%

ConorFynes, December 24th, 2015

Söngvar elds og óreiðu was the first album I heard from a year that's proven to be one of the most transformative in my life. It was nearly a year ago-- a few days were still left in 2014-- and I was once again looking for new albums to dive into. Between a string of masterpieces from bands like Morbus Chron and Thantifaxath, my rabid inner listener was well tended to, but there's always a part of me looking for the next best thing; the newest sound. I'm not alone in the feeling of having been drawn immediately by Misþyrming's superbly fitting choice of artwork. Accompanied by such an immense and evocative cover, I don't think there is any way Söngvar elds og óreiðu would have been able to fall short of shock and awe without possibly being cited for false advertising. Writing a year later, with Misþyrming's debut still more than holding its own throughout the best year for black metal we've seen this decade, I might say the album lived up to its monumental promise. Just maybe.

Most of the reviews I've read for Söngvar elds og óreiðu widely accomplish two things. Firstly, they note a decided influence from Deathspell Omega, a comparison I would certainly agree with, so long as it wasn't used solely to describe what Misþyrming are doing here. Secondly, people like to mention that the band are Icelandic. I do suppose it's worthy to take note of; Icelandic bands are remarkably consistent in quality, and the sheer frigid isolation of the place plays well into the typical black metal aesthetic. For my own contribution into the critical dialogue, I might simply label Misþyrming as an 'inventive' black metal band. This is a far rarer class of musical act than the DSO disciples these days, when it seems every current band not playing gazey atmospheric stuff would like to try their hand at post-modern dissonance. It takes good musicians to be technical and dissonant. It takes a real creative force however to take those tricks and make them feel new again.

2015 has been full of black metal in the stylistic neighbourhood of Söngvar elds og óreiðu, but I can only think of a few that sounded sincerely experimental, even attempting to do something different from the avant-garde frontrunners. Count this album amongst the elect. I can honestly say that Söngvar elds og óreiðu has me on my toes throughout listening to it. Their fundamental style of raw but calculated black metal isn't exactly fresh to them, but they don't use their genre as a crutch.

Not knowing quite where Misþyrming will head next on the album, it is easy to get lost inside Söngvar elds og óreiðu whenever I've put it on. Check the album's first song, "Söngur heiftar", as an example, wherein enveloping dark ambient gives way to crippling black metal gives way to the kind of unintuitive handling of melody I would probably associate with Peste Noire more than anything. Misþyrming are a more versatile act than some of their biggest fans give them credit for. Better still; they excel at each of the avenues they venture down, melding them together for a result that sounds consistent. It's easy to mistake the avant-garde for senseless eclecticism; Misþyrming circumvent this common pitfall by staying consistent in their tone and atmosphere throughout the album.

The most exciting parts of Söngvar elds og óreiðu are where Misþyrming switch up the pace for something new, but the large part of the album is fuelled by the band's hectic onslaught. Although nowhere near as technical and precise, it's easy to see where the Deathspell Omega comparisons are coming from. Misþyrming give little space for the listener to breathe when they're pummelling away at full momentum. And much like DSO, the latent melodies in the guitarwork don't become apparent (if ever) until a few listens in, once the overwhelming dust has settled and the music is more familiar. Not for this aspect necessarily, but the surprisingly raw manner in which Misþyrming approaches it, is this a challenging listen. Even by current standards, I think Söngvar elds og óreiðu is the sort of album that demands a closer ear than you might first give it credit for.

For such a solid album, I'm surprised there are few real highlights to mention. The spontaneous energy in the riffs on "Söngur uppljómunar" are enough to peg that song as a favourite in my books, and the 'no time wasted' mentality of the opener leaves a pretty big impression of its own. Keeping the band's surprisingly prominent focus on dark ambient in mind, Söngvar elds og óreiðu is a rare black metal album that really demands to be heard from start to finish. Each time I hear it, it always finishes sooner than I'd like. At 43 minutes in length, I wouldn't say this is an objective criticism so much as a confession I've been left wanting even more from these guys.

Originally written for Heathen Harvest Periodical.

No One Does Weird Black Metal Like Iceland - 90%

Thumbman, October 9th, 2015

From Svartidauði to Sólstafir, Iceland’s metal scene likes to do things a bit differently. Although a small and isolated place, Iceland clearly has something in the water because it pumps out quality music at an alarming rate. Misþyrming, sharing the experimental edge Icelandic music is often known for, has created one hell of a listening experience by placing one foot in the orthodox with the other drifting into much stranger territory. The urgent assault of creeping black metal is made all the better by being bolstered with horrific atmospheric weirdness.

The album’s cover perfectly encapsulates the feeling of their music. The creaky rawness of the black metal feels like lava pouring into the rusty gates of hell. It indeed feels remarkably claustrophobic – as if being stranded in a cave with the magma slowly encroaching on your territory. Despite the good production job, the black metal is decidedly raw. Irresistible dissonant melody often rises from the blistering mass. A Deathspell Omega influence is quite clear at times. However, the album this most reminds me of is The Ruins of Beverast’s Unlock the Shrine. While this is perhaps not quite as weird, they both operate as strange experimentation revolving around a raw, uncompromising black metal core. Dissonant and demented riffs churn and twist, sometimes lurching about and sometimes in a frenzied fury. The vocals are tortured and the bass is mixed well and has a couple standout moments. The drumming, while mostly consisting of furious blasting, occasionally breaks from the assault with some more intricate and thought-out patterns. While this would be stupid without the core of black metal being solid, it’s the weirder and more atmospheric parts which really cement this album as one worth coming back to.

Take, for example, the first song. The wonderfully obscure black metal eventually grinds to a halt and is replaced with a weird, creeping dissonant melody, which eventually twists back into the black metal. Another song is ended with a carnivalesque piano section. Bizarre ambient also bolsters the claustrophobic atmosphere. Instead of providing a calming reprieve, its twisted tones are unsettling and perfect for the slow-burning horrific atmosphere found throughout the album. The keyboards help create an almost industrial undertone to the album that adds to the off-kilter creepiness. Non-metal sections aren’t actually that frequent, but they make a huge impact every time they emerge from grime.

From black metal to strongmen, Iceland’s cold and isolated nature has given them a pretty solid edge when it comes to anything that falls into the realm of the badass. The way urgent and horrific black metal imbued with creeping dissonant melody is fortified with some truly left field atmospherics makes for a really solid album. While I wish that they went even further with the experimentation, this nevertheless is a great example of Iceland’s penchant for doing things a little bit differently. Just beating out Murg by a hair, I think I can safely say this is the best black metal debut I’ve heard so far out of 2015.

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.