Anthemic. Epic. Accessible. Earwormy. All these adjectives are going to be used in this review of the latest full-length Með hamri by Icelandic Black Metal trailblazers Misþyrming. Does that indirectly mean they lost some of their edge? Don’t think so! Will some scene policemen call them out for being a bit too melodic on this new album? Maybe. Should anyone care about that? No!
Let’s look at this record as if we did not know anything about the band’s history of highly successful releases because if a band has such a discography, then it might not be wise to constantly compare the records! Especially when coming from a rather recluse scene up north amidst the winds, the gales, the cold and the colder, without several scenes clearly divided from each other but rather with one scene emulating all their influences in several projects.
This reworking of outside influences on their sound is also a trademark of Misþyrming because several tracks show their origins pretty clearly without ever losing their shared soundscapes. In order to show this, it is good to have a look at the six tracks on Með hamri song by song: The opener and title track is nothing but pure Scandinavian Black Metal with all its titular trademarks including a very raw, punkish approach (just listen to the first 30 seconds!), some very shrill noisey parts and a shiny but cold outro. On should not forget that Misþyrming are masters at underlying elements which also comes out on the second track, ”Með harmi” which shows their Black Metal concoction close to becoming earwormy. The melody of this track is so poisonously addictive that the riff and the small simple hints at Heavy Metal (mostly in the drumming structure) work so well that one simply cannot forget it. When the band referred in a statement to including more “true metal” in their songs, this might be one of those instances. Awesomely accessible without being irrelevantly melodious.
That second track also has an interesting outro, because it sounds a bit like a small army marching on a windswept plain setting the tonality for the next track, ”Engin miskunn” - by the way, the similarly titled couples on the first four tracks is surely no coincidence! This track is similarly to the opener, good clean Black Metal and it shows the quartet at its finest: raw, relentless and – most of all – remorseless! A brilliant example of how epic Black Metal can be, because let’s be honest – that’s what we all want from time to time. Raw but clearly audible melodies and shouts and vocals that we can try to emulate knowing it doesn’t matter too much if our pronunciation is 100% perfect! That is exactly what the Icelanders are repeating on this record to the ‘t’.
The ending of the third track is somewhat industrial as if two metal plates were rubbing off of each other. And after that we get the fourth track ”Engin vorkunn” which is somewhat moodier than the ones before and just like the second track seems to be an addition to its predecessor, this time opening with some tribal drumming and hollow background vocals before it dives into the realms of classic hard rock with a stomping beat and is really anthemic in the sense that it got a clear (not clean!) melody and even the vocals are pretty clear with less screaming and by and large, this is surely the most accessible song, the band has written lately.
”Blóðhefnd” is a pretty long interlude which connects two tracks with some marching drums, vast-spreading guitar parts and some (seemingly) spoken vocals. The second part of the track is a female choir which could also have sprung out directly from the Edda or from Tolkien’s Silmarillion. Interesting and epic.
Epic is also the last and longest track on the album, ”Aftaka”, which definitely takes its time developing a certain mood of longing and yearning, while simultaneously being a prime example how a rather doomy intro can lead into – no idea why, but the song-structure somewhat reminds me of ”Rats Gorged the Moon .. And All Fell Silent”, the gorgeous last track on Ultha’s 2022 opus magnum All That Has Never Been True. Although ”Aftaka” surely is neither as long nor as psychedelic as said track, it surely has some features that are similar in effect, as when the song breaks down after roughly six minutes they also use the next minute as a breather with some repetitive guitar lines. Then the track takes off again for another round of harsh swirling riffs but when listening closely you will hear the same repetitive line in the background before the song entrances us for its final descent, ending on a last blastbeat and leaving us gasping, wanting for more.
Misþyrming again deliver a remarkable version of Black Metal: Raw and epic, accessible and rough.