Label: Signal Rex
By nature, black metal is – or should be – exclusive. More than any other form of metal, it is not a genre for those looking for popularity, or a good time, or so many of the other things typically associated with rock music. Icelandic group Naðra do not so much understand this concept as they embrace and personify it. Allir Vegit Til Glötunar is presented almost as if it were a challenge, exclusive not in the sense of obscure or hidden, but designed with seemingly no regard for those outside of its immediate circle. As member Tómas states in the press release, “To stay true to oneself in the face of futility is the big idea here. You must create your own meaning, lest there is none.” It speaks of a confidence in the art; a confidence that is more than warranted. Allir Vegit Til Glötunar is black metal art of the highest quality, the kind of record that reminds you over the course of its forty minutes just how glorious and dark the genre can be at its height.
To be clear from the offset: Allir Vegit Til Glötunar is not an easy album. The five tracks are dense, full of movements and atmospheres that are designed not so much to hold the attention of the listener as they are to hold the listener captive, imprisoning you within their dark confines. Comparisons can be drawn to a whole host of bands, from fellow Icelandic acts such as Misþyrming (members of which also play in Naðra), to Eastern European black metal, or even to the likes of Weakling and Cosmic Church. The common theme here is that such acts always came across as if black metal were a means to an end, the best way of expressing what needed to be said, and that is the same feeling Naðra evoke. With all its dark majesty and awe-inspiring wonder, Allir Vegit Til Glötunar is a prime example of black metal not so much as music, but as art.
It is also an exhausting album. Unrelenting and intense both musically and spiritually, Allir Vegit Til Glötunar rarely offers the opportunity to catch breath or get your bearings. The whirlwind riffs and furious drumming rarely let up, and when they do the slower tempos only serve to emphasize the power of the record; even the acoustic section during closer “Fallið” is full of ominous darkness. To find your footing takes time and repeated listens, but they are rewarded, with details coming to the fore as familiarity grows – for an album of such overbearing intensity, there is a lot of subtle nuance to be appreciated within Allir Vegit Til Glötunar. This is best exemplified by album centrepiece “Falið”; at almost fifteen minutes long it is a journey within its own right, and is a fairly considerable barrier to entry. But for those who persist, and whose hearts are touched by the blackness that lurks within, the rewards are more than worthwhile. There is poetry buried in these primeval screams.
To put in to words the feeling that Allir Vegit Til Glötunar conveys is no easy task, and may well be a fruitless one. To return to that opening quote: you must create your own meaning. With the band having no desire to publish the lyrics, save to state that they are highly personal in nature, it falls upon the listener to find their own interpretation of what is presented. Such is part of the appeal of the record. But regardless of how it is seen, there is no denying that Allir Vegit Til Glötunar is an album that reaches beyond the confines of this world, that seeks for something grander than is usually offered, and as such, deserves to be held in the highest regard. The sincerity of vision and devotion to craft are apparent, and the results are more than worthwhile. It will take time to unlock these mysteries, but dark treasures await those who do.
Allir Vegit Til Glötunar can be streamed and downloaded via Bandcamp; vinyl is set to be released by Fallen Empire Records; CD is available from Signal Rex; and a cassette release is due from Vánagandr.