It’s a well-used phrase, but one I’m going to use anyway: There must be something in the water.
The water in question flows through Iceland, suffusing it’s natives with a uniqueness of musical purpose few nations can match. Today we’re spotlighting Nyrst, a black metal band who seek to harness the power of the volcanoes that threaten the very existence of their island homeland to create music of similarly potent, malicious nature.
Völd is their second album, and whilst to these ears it doesn’t always quite possess the mischief or mercurial nature inherent in the band’s debut, Orsök, it is at least equal and often better in overall impact.
At times you’ll get hints of fellow Icelanders Misþyrming, but for the most part Nyrst plow their own lava-filled furrow; Best track Drottnari nafnlausra gu∂a is epic in every sense, with vocalist Snæbjörn front and centre declaiming dramatic spoken word passages with dragon-like roaring to tremendous effect; Eysteinn throws in some slightly off-kilter lead work to add a bit of Voivodian madness to the soup, with the overall impression being that this is a band that is really only showing part of it’s hand at this point – the potential here is clearly vast.
Closing track Af fjarri ströndum is nearly as good, allowing Snæbjörn full opportunity to show just how much power his lungs can summon up, and once again Eysteinn is on hand to provide some very challenging guitar accompaniment, augmented by drummer Sveinbjörn‘s most punishing work on the record. If, like me, you find the appeal of a lot of modern black metal has gone a bit stale simply due to the sheer amount of the stuff on offer of late, it’s heartening to hear a band like Nyrst delivering on their musical promise so impressively, proving it is possible to offer up this style of music with freshness and vigour in 2023.
Völd releases on December 8th.