Mysterious Icelanders Endalok add oddness to black metal on ‘Úr Draumheimi Viðurstyggðar’

endalokIt seemed like the past few years have brought with them a lot of bands that forgo identities and instead let the music speak for themselves. Whether that’s to establish an aura of mystery or simply to avoid pestering writers and/or listeners who demand to know more about the people behind the music, I’ve had more failed background research for bands than I can remember in some time.

And so that same thing comes around again as we dig into Endalok, the latest in a long line of Icelandic bands that have made that place a hotbed for extreme metal. With no band members to account for (the promo shot shows one person, but we’ll proceed as if it’s a group) or names behind the music, we only have to go on what they’ve done so far which is, granted, precious little. But what this band has given us is a fiery demo “Englaryk” that was issued by both Hellthrasher Productions and Signal Rex, and now we have their first proper EP “Úr Draumheimi Viðurstyggðar” that reeks pf promise and mind-tangling terror. The band certainly uses black metal as its base; but on top of that they pile on dissonant melodies, cavernous atmosphere, and a proper amount of channeled brutality that their music is both destructive and mind-altering. Over five songs and 24 minutes, the band makes a statement that darkness has many ways of spreading, and that they have their own mechanisms toward creating foul visions. Oh, as a side note, the vinyl version of this EP will include the entire “Englaryk” demo on side two, so if you missed out, it’s two birds and one stone.

endalok-cover“Afskræming holds og sálar” starts the record with a dose of weird dissonance that spills echoed howls and a slow, mesmerizing pace. Things kick into higher gear as the track bleeds on, with a sickening tempo taking over and a smothering finish. “Eldhaf” is the longest cut at 9:10, and it starts in a shimmering pool of noise, strange rattling, and a stomping pace. Cavernous moans mix in with the churning playing, making it seem like you’re locked in the clutches of a death dream. The song remains strange and hypnotic as it goes down the stretch, but it also gets vicious and bloodthirsty, with lurching growls doing psychological damage and the song melting away.

“Jarðarfarasálmur” has an ominous riff that pours pure blackness, and everything blends together and brings horrifying violence. The mix of all elements makes for a fever-inducing section, as the track is bizarre and can have you hearing things that aren’t even there. “Ekkert varir að eilífu” has slurry strings and guitars dripping in and creating an enveloping fog. There are sounds of animals howling and a chilling ambiance that gets under your skin, bringing the track to an oddly calm finish. Closer “Holdgerving Andskotans” opens in a storm of racket, as guitars sprawl open, and a murky storm settles overhead. The growls penetrate the sound bubble, as everything mixes into a haze of oddness, with all elements coming to a head and blazing out into the night.

Endalok have a limited resume for the time being, but what they have produced so far has us pretty damn excited. As more and more black metal bands pile up, the ones that smear their colors outside the lines and create their own chemistry are the ones that will stand out, and “Úr Draumheimi Viðurstyggðar” is a strong step toward making that happen for this band. I’d love to hear what Endalok can do with the extra canvas of a full-length, but until then, I’ll let these songs alter my mind.

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