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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.

Joe Daly

Camped out in Southern California, Joe pens features, reviews albums and covers live shows for Metal Hammer and Classic Rock. When he’s not bothering his neighbours with Rammstein, Joe’s typically off playing ice hockey, fumbling around on a bass or letting his dogs guilt him into a nice long walk.