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Almyrkvi - Umbra album review

Icelandic adventurers take black metal to the outer limits

Cover art for Almyrkvi - Umbra album

Not for the faint of heart, Almyrkvi’s stunning full-length debut is a churning vortex of glacial riffs, spectral atmospherics and the guttural roar of mastermind Garðar S. Jónsson. Some might rush to file Umbra under the vague umbrella of atmospheric black metal but that’s only a small part of the story. Taken as a whole, Umbra is a grandiose, shapeshifting epic that alchemises Garðar’s sprawling influences into an arresting voyage far into the bleak recesses of space. Severed Pillars Of Life initiates the trek with a punishing death metal dirge gilded with subtle flashes of stoner rock and psychedelia. Cimmerian Flame invokes more traditional BM elements and Vaporous Flame is a breathtaking monolith of blackened atmospheric brutality. Channelled from the dichotomy between pure sonic aggression and the celestial grandeur of the cosmos, Umbra might well herald the onset of a striking new breed of black metal.

Hailing from San Diego, California, Joe Daly is an award-winning music journalist with over thirty years experience. Since 2010, Joe has been a regular contributor for Metal Hammer, penning cover features, news stories, album reviews and other content. Joe also writes for Classic Rock, Bass Player, Men’s Health and Outburn magazines. He has served as Music Editor for several online outlets and he has been a contributor for SPIN, the BBC and a frequent guest on several podcasts. When he’s not serenading his neighbours with black metal, Joe enjoys playing hockey, beating on his bass and fawning over his dogs.