Zhrine

Unortheta

Nothing’s zhocking
dB rating: 8/10

Release Date: April 8th, 2016
Label: Season of Mist

I’m no anthropologist, but I gotta think there’s a direct correlation between how fucked up a band’s artistic output is and how consistently their natural surroundings are trying to kill them. How else can you explain what’s been going on in Iceland over the past few years? Carpe Noctem, Sinmara, Misþyrming… if these bands don’t count the murderous volcanoes looming just outside their front doors as influences on par with sonic alchemists like Deathspell Omega and Gorguts, I’ll eat my trapper hat.

A Nat Geo investigation into this phenomenon would be ideal, but until then, at least there are bands like Zhrine to shed some light. Formerly known as Gone Postal, they’re the latest export from a burgeoning scene that worships equally at the altars of ambient exploration and technical mind-fuckery. With their debut LP, Unortheta, the Reykjavík-based quartet have conjured a churning black/death vortex that takes the disgusting atonality of avant-garders like Blut Aus Nord, melds it with the oppressively frigid atmosphere of Svartidauði (guitarist Nökkvi Gylfason is a member), and folds in fetid layers of doom and psychedelia for good measure.

Seven-minute opener “Utopian Warfare” encapsulates everything you need to know about this album: An eerily melodic instrumental section gives way to sinister tremolo chords, cavernous growls and pummeling blast beats, all of which is cloaked in a foggy esotericism. Standout tracks like “Spewing Gloom” and “The Syringe Dance” are further revelations, with drummer Stefán Stefánsson turning in some seriously impressive work on the latter. Something in the water, indeed.

—Matt Solis
This review taken from the July 2016 issue.

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