The prospect of seeing two of Iceland’s very best black metal bands performing at a free-entry show in a small pub in London was simply too much for me to resist, so I caught a coach down from York in eager anticipation. Since the release of their album Unortheta (probably my favourite album of all time), Zhrine have secured spots at major festivals around Europe and North America, and even toured the US with Ulcerate and Phobocosm last year. Self-described ‘outsiders’ to Iceland’s black metal scene, Auðn are truly one of Iceland’s underrated gems. Atmospheric and evocative, bleak and tortured by melancholy, with throat-shredding shrieks and howls. Their side-project Hubris rounded off the stellar lineup, delivering brutal death metal aggression with malicious black metal influences. The stellar lineup delivered a spectacular show for all present, reaffirming the strength of Iceland’s metal scene. Continue reading “Live report: Zhrine / Auðn / Hubris (23/04/2017)”
Putting aside much of what happened politically in 2016, this has been one of the best years in recent memory for metal. There were many, many albums I loved this year, far too many to squeeze into an end-of-year list. So I have limited myself to picking my ten favourite albums, as well as five ‘runners up’. And by imposing this particular format on myself I had to think quite carefully about my choices and what it is that makes that particular album stand out to me. And really what it comes down to, most of the time, is whether an album moves me. If an album inspires some sort of reaction from me on an emotional level – whether that’s in an emotionally resonant song or idea, or by crafting such a rich and powerful atmosphere that the listener is transported away from their everyday life – that’s what really makes an album stand out to me. So there were many albums which I enjoyed but which you won’t find on this list precisely because, even though they might have some great riffs or something else, if I didn’t connect with it then it’s not something that’s going to figure into my list of the best metal albums of the year.
I’ve never made any secret of the fact that I think Iceland’s metal scene is absolutely fucking stellar. Probably half of my top 10 favourite bands hail from the tiny northern island, Zhrine among them. Formerly known as Gone Postal, they underwent an incredible metamorphosis, bursting onto the scene earlier this year with their debut album “Unortheta”, a dazzling and entrancing black and death metal concoction that succeeded – in my view – on nearly every level. Having reviewed the album not too long ago, I now bring you an interview with their guitarist Nökkvi Gylfason. He’s a guitarist and one of their key creative forces in ZHRINE, as well as in Svartidauði, arguably Iceland’s breakout extreme metal band. In this interview I wanted to talk about his more recent music with ZHRINE, particularly as their album means a lot to me. I want to thank Nökkvi again for taking the time to speak to me and for giving such thoughtful answers. Continue reading “Interview: Zhrine and Svartidauði guitarist Nökkvi Gylfason”
Over the past few years, Iceland’s metal scene has exploded in popularity. This year has seen Svartidauði perform in the United States and support Primordial on a tour across Europe, while Misþyrming performed as an Artist In Residence at the legendary Roadburn festival after just one album to their name. Zhrine seem set to continue that winning streak with their debut album ‘Unortheta’, taking elements of black metal and death metal and combining them to create that something far greater than the sum of its parts.
I’m going to get straight to the point here: Zhrine‘s greatest strength is their ability to write fantastic songs. Other bands might be heavier, more technical, or more avant-garde, but Zhrine‘s ability to write beautiful, haunting, deeply unsettling music is so many steps ahead of most other bands it’s almost silly. And that’s even more impressive considering this is their first release together as Zhrine, having been previously known as Gone Postal before rebranding as Zhrine to mark the change in musical direction from that past project. For such a young band to come out with such a well-written debut album as Unortheta is a rare thing. It’s not an easy thing to articulate or explain, but whatever good songwriting is – it’s present on Unortheta in spades.