The new album from Katla is Allt þetta Helvítis Myrkur, and it lives up to the promise of the band’s namesake.
In their follow-up to the 2017 album Móðurástin, Iceland’s Katla continues the well-established sound of the former and extends their musical scope like a growing network of fumaroles. While that first album pushed you down with a glacial weight, the new one is darker, even heavier.
The band is Einar Thorberg Guðmundsson and Guðmundur Óli Pálmason interacting together in a musical partnership that brings the boiling black blood of the earth to the surface. The music is in the Doom universe, nearing Funeral Doom sometimes with many ambient passages. There are also more active guitar solos than you would typically find in Doom albums, a key feature that sets this music apart.
The album’s title Allt þetta Helvítis Myrkur translates to All This Damned Darkness, according to the press release, and you feel that right away. “Ást orðum ofar” opens the album with a menacing soundscape that could be a soundtrack for a particularly terrifying scene in an Ari Aster film where the violence and horror happen in slow motion and the voices of the constituents are silent while this music plays on. “Villuljos” is next and presents that first strong example of guitar solos I admire so much in this music. Beyond that, the composition of the piece is unusual in its pace changing and surprising turns.
The vocals are engaging, sometimes presented in harmony, and occasionally bursting forth. As I don’t speak the language, I hear the voices entirely as another instrument and therefore the tone and emotion are the primary impressions I receive from them when listening. In “Salarsvefn” there are strong Death Metal presentations, and in other songs, like “Hvitamyrkur,” you hear a beautiful melancholy guitar. Throughout the feeling is mystical and dark, but within the music is deliciously variegated. The title track is twelve minutes of solemn, dire music that sets up the fourteen minute closer, “Svartnaetti.” There is so much here to explore and experience that you want to hear it undistracted so you do not miss anything. Katla’s new album is a rich, dark discovery. Recommended.
Allt þetta Helvítis Myrkur will see its full release this Friday, November 13th from Prophecy Productions and available through Bandcamp. There is also a deluxe version (Luxus) that has additional music. You can order physical copies through the Big Cartel link below.
Big Cartel store, https://katlaband.bigcartel.com/