Right about now, as this article is being posted on our site, Iceland’s Sinmara will be revealing the contents of their new album Aphotic Womb at an official listening party at the Beyond the Gates festival in Bergen, Norway, where the band will also be performing live tonight along with an impressive list of other extreme metal bands. But even if you’re unable to teleport yourself to Garage Bergen to hear the album, we’re hosting our own listening party right here through our U.S. premiere of Aphotic Womb.
Sinmara (formerly known as Chao) now includes members of other impressive Icelandic bands — Wormlust, Svartidauði, and Rebirth of Nefast — and I’ve written enthusiastically about each of the songs from the album that have premiered to date:
The squalling dissonance of the riffs, the extremely creative drum rhythms, the extraterrestrial atmosphere of the melody, the sheer vehemence of the acid-spray vocals — all of that combines to make “Verminous” a song that’s both utterly unnerving and utterly riveting. And the album’s title track is an otherworldly flowering of poisonous thorns, shrouded in a miasma of tremolo chords, serpentine leads, thrumming bass notes, and fantastic drum work that you can feel in your spine.
But as compelling as these tracks are, they can’t be taken as a summing of the album as a whole, because each song has its own frightening character. In addition, the songs were composed over a period of years, some going back to the Chao years, with earlier material on the first side and more recent songs representing the band’s current state on side two.
The closing track, for example (“Mountains of Quivering Bones”), is a monster exceeding 10 minutes in length that is overpoweringly crushing and fantastically eerie. It’s driven by galvanizing riffs and an insidious bass line, but oozes with sickness, its air of pestilential miasma just as potent as the hard-driving beats, bone-mangling timpani, and flesh-rending vocals. It’s been grabbing me just as hard as Bölzer’s “Entranced by the Wolfshook” when I first heard that song.
And that’s true of the album as a whole. Aphotic Womb is mysterious, frightening, and otherworldly in its atmosphere, but the occult melodies are just as infectious as the riffs and rhythms are spine-shaking. It’s strong from end to end — but if you’ve only got time for one track, allow yourself to be covered by “Mountains of Quivering Bones”.
Aphotic Womb features cover art by the talented New Zealand artist Alexander L Brown. The cover is one of three large illustrations and sixteen minor pieces he created for Aphotic Womb. The album will be released on CD and later on vinyl by the Norwegian black metal label Terratur Possessions.