Úlfúð, Of Existential Distortion (Dark Descent 2023)

Black metal band Úlfúð opens a dark book with Of Existential Distortion.

Icelanders Úlfúð capture isolation and emptiness on their first long-player, following up on their debut EP from 2018, First Sermon. Coming together in 2015, the band is comprised of Birkir Kárason (guitar), Eysteinn Orri Sigurðsson (guitar), Sigurður Jakobsson (drums), Hannar Sindri Grétarsson (bass), and Breki Danielsen Imsland (vocals). According to the press release, Úlfúð is pronounced “ool-wooth” and means animosity or hostility, a description that fits the music well.

There are eight tracks on the new album, beginning with “Where Strange Lights Dance.” The black metal trill opens dark and sour on the song, expanding into steadiness with the customary underlying proliferation of notes. The death metal influences live in the vocals and the rhythm crust, and they combine perfectly with the blackness. “Tears of Terra” sounds like a dark fantasy tale filled with conflict and dread, purveying uncertain outcomes. This music is more significantly full than a lot of black metal I hear – meaning it is not merely a barrage of notes but is instead a meticulously created musical entity. “Mockery Theatre” adds a massive heaviness to many passages and a surprisingly catchy hook as well, not to mention the haunting lead guitar work. I would love to see this one performed live.

This album is plaintive and sorrowful, but also active and engaging. Songs like “Faceless” and “Questions” are fascinating in the drive the conjure with their straightforward constructions and memorable sidebars. Don’t miss the eight-minute epic “An Elegy to a Paradise Out of Reach,” which howls and swirls in a frozen wasteland, and the closer, “Leviathan Dreams,” a song that carries dark threats and unforgettable musical lines. Recommended.

Of Existential Distortion is out Friday, March 17th through Dark Descent Records. Have a look at the links below.


Bandcamp, https://darkdescentrecords.bandcamp.com/album/of-existential-distortion

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/ulfud/

Dark Descent Records, https://www.darkdescentrecords.com/shop/

© Wayne Edwards

Úlfúð, Of Existential Distortion (Dark Descent 2023)

Katla, Allt þetta Helvítis Myrkur review (Prophecy Productions 2020)

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.


Bandcamp, https://katlaiceland.bandcamp.com/

Big Cartel store, https://katlaband.bigcartel.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/katla.band

Label, https://us.prophecy.de/artists/katla/

Katla, Allt þetta Helvítis Myrkur review (Prophecy Productions 2020)

Cult of Lilith, Mara review (Metal Blade Records 2020)

Cult of Lilith release their first full-length album, Mara, in a stunning display of far reaching creativity and Prog Metal exploration.

Bands from Reykjavík, Iceland, might have faced isolation obstacles in the past, but in the modern world the distance from and to everywhere else is easily overcome and their music can be accessed and heard by everyone. Cult of Lilith could tell you that. Formed in 2015, they released their first EP, Arkanum, the following year. After adding a new singer from abroad (Spain), the creative forces solidified and the creation of Mara began. The band is Mario Infantes (vocals), Daníel Þór Hannesson (guitar), Kristján Jóhann Júlíusson (guitar), Samúel Örn Böðvarsson (bass), and Kjartan Harðarson (drums).

The music is described as “Necromechanical baroque.” It is a fusion of Death Metal in the tempos and rhythm with Prog Metal in the guitars interlaced with a wide variety of other musical influences ranging from classical to jazz and beyond. The lead guitar work has the speed and technical precision that rivals virtuoso metal bands like Exmortus. That is the Prog side coming out, the extraordinarily high level of musicianship required of the complex compositions. The other elements are expertly laced throughout into a seamless whole.

The album opens with 20 seconds of solo harpsichord before punching out blast beats under a monster guitar riff supporting rapidly shifting vocals, from death-coarse to melodic, all in the first minute. That is “Cosmic Maelstrom.” The lead guitar in the opener is lyrical and swirling, and the song ends in a mad rush. The next song is “Purple Tide,” and it does make you feel like you are at sea. It has a more serious and sinister tone than the previous song, including an almost maniacal screaming and whispering from Infantes. What you start to realize is that, while the compositions are wildly diverse and approach technical perfection, the vocals lead and direct the emotion of the songs. The music remains mostly fast and variegated throughout. Some songs have a slower tempo, like “Atlas,” but that does not stop them from being surprising and filled with creative changes and dodges. And then there are songs like “Profeta Paloma,” which have significant passages that are soft, acoustic moments of quiet and beauty surrounded by chaos. There is no chance to get comfortable listening to this album because there is too much going on. Cult of Lilith truly is a unique experience. Recommended.

While you are waiting for Friday to come, you could go to Spotify and listen to the Arkanum EP. It is exceptional, and a good launching point to get ready for the new (even with the different vocalist, Jón Haukur Pétursson). Plus, two singles are available now in advance of the full set dropping in a couple days on September 4. Metal Blade is offering CDs, vinyl, and downloads, and a t-shirt as well.






Cult of Lilith, Mara review (Metal Blade Records 2020)