(In this post Andy Synn reviews the new EP by Iceland’s Almyrkvi, now available on Bandcamp.)
Black Metal has a long history of dealing with darkness in all its many forms… so it’s not surprising that so many of its adherents eventually turn their eyes towards the vast, vacant heavens and seek inspiration in the bleak emptiness of the void.
And so it is with Iceland’s Almyrkvi, the brainchild of Sinmara guitarist Garðar S. Jónsson, whose debut EP Pupil of the Searing Maelstrom seeks to capture the fearsome cold and endless nothngness of the celestial abyss in five impressively atmospheric and morbidly mesmerising tracks.
It’s impossible to deny the heavy debt the music here owes to Blut Aus Nord, of course, as the sound of Almyrkvi seems to draw inspiration from across the length and breadth of the Frenchmen’s multiplicitous portfolio, with particular reference to the dissonant deviance of The Work Which Transforms God and the more avant-garde/ambient styles which dominated the 777 trilogy.
But Pupil of the Searing Maelstrom is certainly far more than a mere carbon-copy or impotent clone of its forebears. Jónsson clearly has his own vision, and his own demons, to exorcise.
There’s an eerie, otherworldly beauty to “Primeval”, for example, that manages to be both soothing and desolate in equal measure, radiating black light and ambient sound waves that caress your skin as they pass, whereas “Shrouded in Blinding Light” cultivates a far harsher approach, conjuring a brooding array of fractured, fractal riffs and disharmonic anti-melodies.
“Currents of Detestation” possesses a darkly soporific vibe, its spiralling, vertigo-inducing guitar work, hypnotic drum beats, and synesthetic synths throbbing and pulsing in time with the surging ebb and flow of your veins, whilst “Feeding the Void” takes this inward introspection and forces it to look outwards once again, painting a monochromatic, industrial-tinged portrait of the cosmic chasm in little more than shades of ever-darkening black.
Concluding with the rumbling, red-shifted distortion of its title-track, the final impression of Pupil of the Searing Maelstrom is less that of a collection of singular songs, and more a series of sonic sketches of something infinitely greater and all-encompassing, each one grasping to elucidate and illuminate something, one small aspect, one tiny facet, of the absent infinity which surrounds us.