In extreme metal circles these days, when one thinks of Iceland one thinks of black metal. Draugsól was one of many Icelandic black metal bands who proved their worth, with a fine 2017 debut album named Volaða land (we learned more about the band and that album in a 2017 NCS interview). Subsequently, two of Draugsól’s three members (guitarist/bassist/vocalist Maximilian Klimko and drummer Kjartan Harðarson) chose to forge ahead under a new name — Kaleikr — and their first album Heart of Lead will be released on February 15th by Debemur Morti Productions.
The album is described as “a journey from sadness through despair to total mental collapse”. In mid-December DMP released a song from the album named “The Descent“, one of three tracks on the record that includes a guest performance by Árni Bergur Zoëga on viola. It appears second in the running order, following the opener “Beheld At Sunrise”, in which the viola also figures prominently before the album’s musical descent begins.
Through each successive track, the journey becomes more strange, dark, and unnerving as Kaleikr draw upon an array of stylistic tools as they see fit to portray their narrative in sound, without being constrained by the conventions of any one genre. Where the album begins at sunrise, it ends in perpetual sunset, with the record’s seventh track. But before reaching that striking culmination, the music surges to an apotheosis of intensity in the song we’re helping premiere today — “Neurodelirium“.
There is a gleaming and glorious quality to the music of “The Descent” at first, forming a transition from the opening cut, and then it becomes ferocious, harrowing, steeped in ominous gloom, and spiraling toward bombastic insanity. While black metal is one ingredient in the music, it’s not the only one; the band draw upon death and progressive metal as well, weaving an intricate tapestry of sound that proves to be explosive, luminous, head-spinning, and hallucinatory.
By the time “Neurodelirium” arrives, however, a black and bewildering madness is ascendant. The music is intricate, even labyrinthine in its twists and divisions, often cloaked in oppressive darkness yet rampantly extravagant. All the constantly moving parts — from jolting riffs to spiraling shards of shining melody, from blasts of imperious grandeur to febrile, darting strings; from the inventive interplay of drum patterns and fretwork textures that diverge and converge in eye-popping fashion — convey the sensation of a mind overloaded with angst, boiling energy, despair, and something like the flight-or-fight frenzy of an adrenaline banquet.
Wholly apart from the intense emotional kaleidoscope displayed by this rich array of fast-twitching sounds, “Neurodelirium” is a tour de force of song-writing imagination and instrumental exuberance, as much a display of extreme prog-metal fireworks as it is a dark delivery of death metal oppressiveness and black metal violence. The one word that comes to mind at the top of a long list of adjectives (and no, I haven’t exhausted all the ones I’ve thought of) is this: The song is absolutely electrifying.
Heart of Lead was mixed and mastered by Stephen Lockhart at Studio Emissary. The vibrant cover art was created by Metastazis. You can pre-order the album now (and you damn well should).
1. Beheld At Sunrise
2. The Descent
3. Of Unbearable Longing
4. Internal Contradiction
6. Heart Of Lead
7. Eternal Stalemate And A Never-ending Sunset