zhrine – unortheta (2016)

i have praised iceland before. many times. but obviously i can go on. now we have zhrine (previously a death metal band called gone postal). their debut unortheta is simply an impressive album in the icelandic extreme metal school, wandering mainly in black, death and occasionally doom metal territories. however, the load of melancholy present in the album as well as the artistic approach of the band sets this release clearly apart from your typical death metal.

this emotion manifests itself in its purest form in the opening track, with a sweet build up from sorrowful arpeggio, bass and then a torturing of guitars (rather than a riff) and an onslaught of heavy drumming. vocals totally rule the music. extremely low and loud death metal growls (and rare shrieks) add much brutality. the “death metal” however goes little further than this, except few passages. the rest is solidly structured songs of agony, anger and a free flow of experimentation. the two guitars lead the atmosphere throughout most of the album, a freely experimenting lead over manic riffing. bass sounds so organic and “old-school”, which leads quite often, rather than laying the rhythm. the fury, agony, technicality, shifting and sudden changes in tempo are only reflected in masterful drum playing here. besides being extremely well executed, the sound again is toned perfectly, thick and alive.

unortheta is an artistically executed and well produced album conveying a wide array of emotions and soundscapes. loaded with shifting passages, tempo changes and experimentation, it is still accessible at first listen and coherently structured, allowing themes and passages to build up in their time, rather than being cacophonic. an overall awesome album and one should expect nothing less than a piece of art from iceland.

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