Label: Signal Rex
Release Date: 01 February 2019
Format reviewed: Digital Promo
ÖRMAGNA is a new, modern black metal creature emerging from the frost-bound landscapes of Iceland with a debut self-titled album. Iceland may be a small country but it has an ever-strengthening reputation and presence in the modern metal world, having forged distinct styles and sounds that are unique to the region. ÖRMAGNA possesses hints of their local scene’s style; however, their album does not feel like a typical Icelandic black metal piece. It contains a foundation of raw black metal, yet sounds very contemporary, being refined by layers of melody, hints of blues and a flood of emotional complexity. The Icelandic lyrics are delivered in a novel style for the genre which seemingly opens the floodgates to a mosaic of diverse emotions. Rather than evoking pure anger and rage, the gruff, grating and unrestrained vocals translate feelings of torment, anguish, despair, pain and desperation.
The album opens with a brief, muffled and heavily distorted instrumental that fades out into an echo effect, as though gently leading the listener down into an empty subterranean Icelandic lava tube. From here the tone becomes more nefarious with track one, “Háskinn í Seljunum” opening slowly but building into an anguished and furious beast over an intense 8 minute and 44 seconds period. Track three, “Náladoði” maintains a fast-paced assault before “Örmagna” unexpectedly takes a sharp turn, kicking off with a catchy, almost pop-punk melody. I have to admit this track caught me off-guard but thankfully the confusion was fleeting, with the mood rapidly dipping back into something appropriately heinous. One of the standout tracks is “3 ár í dýflissu”, which has a lethargic doom-like aesthetic that occasionally unravels into a thrillingly chaotic fast-paced fury.
Overall, what this debut offers is powerful, fresh and intriguing. The vocals are one-of-a-kind and the musicianship is engaging, delivering a mix of cold black metal with subtle moments of doom-esque despair and exciting hints of blues. Interestingly the band lineup is cryptic with members only being referred to by single letters (Trommur: H; Gítar: D; Bassi: A; Söngur: Ö; Gítar: S). However, according to the NorðanPaunk Icelandic music festival website the band was constructed with members from Naðra, Misþyrming and Norn.
ÖRMAGNA are bringing something new to the Icelandic scene and although they are not typical of the current landscape they have taken some of the best existing elements and added their own exciting twists. 7/10 Proua Metallist
7/10 Victory is possible
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