Dear Icelandic black metal ~
I know I talked some shit about how you seemed to be falling off lately in that last installment of Kvltists in the Vault. I was wrong, and I’m sorry I ever doubted you.
Abashedly Yours ~
Look…we all say dumb shit from time to time, right? Everyone spouts off the occasional ill-formed opinion and then looks back and says ‘what the fuck was I thinking?’ Shout out to my Aussie brother in kvltness Dex from Black Metal Daily for gently pointing out the error of my ways whilst we were discussing the latest Svartidauði album. As for what I was thinking, here’s my hypothesis: I’ve clearly been taking Icelandic black metal for granted. When a scene has been that good for that long, it’s easy to do – at least until an album comes along, grabs you by the short hairs, and shouts ‘hey asshole – remember me?!’
If Svartidauði’s Revelations of the Red Sword was the album that shook me awake, the self-titled debut from Örmagna is the one that’s making me feel like I need to reenact the apology scene from Happy Gilmore: ” I’m stupid. You’re smart. I was wrong. You were right. You’re the best. I’m the worst. You’re very good-looking. I’m not very attractive.”
As tends to be the case with most black metal bands regardless of where they’re from, not much is known about Örmagna aside from the fact that Naðra vocalist Ö also handles söngur duties for the band. Aside from that, though, there really isn’t much that connects the band stylistically to what listeners have come to expect from the Icelandic black metal scene. The first two words that come to mind when attempting to describe their sound are ‘melodic’ and ’emotional,’ which are much more apt descriptors for a post-hardcore band than for a black metal one. In fact, ‘black metal dudes playing post-hardcore (but definitely not fucking blackgaze)’ may be the best starting point for approaching this band.
Thus far, the shadowy quintet has only released one song – “Háskinn í Seljunum,” which appeared on their Bandcamp page back in July. We’re premiering the second one here today at the Vault. Google tells me that “Náladoði” translates as “Moody,” which really is a perfect shorthand for Örmagna, which will be available on February 1 via Signal Rex (preorder here). It’s one of the more consistently uptempo songs on the album, but it’s entirely too dark and…well, moody to really call aggressive. Guitarists S and S and bassist A coil and weave their respective lines around and through each other as if they were tendrils of smoke, while drummer H effortlessly follows every mercurial move they make, deftly switching tempos multiple times. Ö’s hoarse, hardcore-esque shouts rest somewhere in the middle of it all, making their presence felt without needing to dominate the mix. It’s one hell of a song, from a surprising and incredibly gratifying album.
Anyone expecting tremolos and blasting may well come away from Örmagna feeling slightly disappointed. However, if you’re the sort who appreciates bands like Fugazi, Jawbox, and At the Drive-In as much as you do Sargeist and Misþyrming, you are definitely going to flip your shit over Örmagna.