Misþyrming

support Naðra + Genfærd
author AP date 14/11/21 venue Stengade, Copenhagen, DEN

With two nights of concerts plus a traditional Danish Christmas luncheon behind me, my sleep debt is high, but no amount of exhaustion was going to stop me from attending this long-awaited concert featuring two of the best black metal artists from Iceland. It was originally supposed to take place in April 2020 but was postponed no less than three times as wave after wave of virus swept across the European continent, cancelling everything in its path. So with dark bags under my eyes and my level of energy diminishing with each passing minute, I bike to Nørrebro venue Stengade, which, while not at maximum capacity, is boasting a pretty strong turnout considering that it unfortunately is already Sunday evening.

All photos courtesy of Lykke Nielsen

Genfærd

First in line to perform is the local black metal horde Genfærd, who did not impress me when I saw them for the first and last time in 2015. That’s a long time ago though, so I am hoping the band has made some progress in the last five and a half years. Their appearance has not changed at least; the quartet is splattered with blood and wearing corpse paint, looking very much the part for their traditional, Norwegian school of black metal. Dim, red, flickering lights make up the backdrop as the four musicians deliver salvo after salvo of blasting, wintry tunes, creating a dark and grim atmosphere not unlike Taake or Tsjuder, and while the mix is quite muddied, the one thing that particularly stands out is frontman R’s tormented vocal performance. His growls and shrieks are full of anguish, and when the light technician lets loose the strobes, he comes across like some sinister ghoul, moving in disturbing twitches. Bassist G even more so thanks to his frenetic headbanging antics. But although there is nothing wrong with Genfærd’s music per se, it is not particularly astounding either; there are only a couple of tracks that punch through standard black metal fare and deliver those truly memorable moments, one of them being the epic, windblown closing piece (which I believe may be “Sønderrevet” off the band’s self-titled début album from 2015). It is the forlornly wailing lead guitar of J in particular that gives me the chills in this track, but in general, it is simply one of those extremely well written compositions that tend to become the mantlepiece of any artist’s repertoire, and so it has for Genfærd, too, by the sounds of it. I would just wish there were more such highlights packed into the group’s 35-minute setlist.

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Naðra

As soon as Naðra, whose line-up includes the two guitarists and bassist of Misþyrming, kick off their set with “Fjallið” off their first and only full-length album “Allir vegir til glötunar” from 2016, it is impossible not to become enthralled by vocalist Örlygur Sigurðarson. This shirtless demon is the epitome of artists who embody their music physically, mentally and emotionally, transforming their very self into a persona. Swaying from side to side, dangling his microphone above his head like a hangman’s noose, Sigurðarson lives and breathes Naðra’s melodic, and at times folksy style of black metal in which sweeping melodies and blazing guitar solos all find their own part. And the word melodies needs to be stressed, because the resplendency of Naðra’s music far supersedes even that of tonight’s headliner — sort of in the vein of Uada, but with a distinctly melancholy, Icelandic feel. Despite the presence of the three Misþyrming members in their fold, Naðra actually sounds remarkably unlike the headliner (more experimental perhaps?), with drummer H even whipping out a disco beat in the second last song “Fort”. The guest musicians also remain in the background as much as possible, helping to keep the focus firmly on Sigurðarson and his spellbinding performance. Not surprisingly, all eyes of the audience are fixed on him, and more than once, some of the more avid fans upfront even dare embracing the hulking frontman, lending their own voices to beef up his despairing growls and shrieks. The stunningly intense performance draws to a conclusion via the new cut “Third of the Storms”, which leaves us even more anxious to hear the long-awaited sophomore record that supposedly is just around the corner.

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Misþyrming

It is an entirely different looking Misþyrming that steps onto the stage for the second time to the tune of “Hælið” (the interlude from their latest album “Algleymi”), their ashen faces and grimy clothes making them looks as though they had been spat out by a volcano. The four musicians look as imposing as ever, dressed to reflect the nature of the dissonant opening track “Með hamri”, which seems to be a piece of brand new material. It is quite different to the aforementioned “Algleymi” yet no less intense, and true to the band’s tradition, it is delivered with terrifying force and at deafening volume. There is a particular stance most black metal fans adopt when they are impressed — arms crossed, slightly elevated chin, and with a Barack Obama-esque look of approval — and this is how the entire audience is stood once the thunderous double bass drums and siren lead guitar of “Orgia” are unleashed. The guitar-wielding frontman D.G. rushes toward the audience in threatening surges, bassist G.E., guitarist T.Í. and drummer H.R.H. throw themselves about as though they were caught in the eyewall of a hurricane. Yes, this is exactly the band I remember from the 2016 edition of the Roadburn festival: fierce, energetic and monumental.

Misþyrming are intensely focused on the visual aesthetic of their show, which means that when any of the musicians need to tune their instrument in between the songs, they turn it into a kind of ritual with all four kneeling down, gazing at the floor amidst screeching feedback and ambient sounds. This not only creates a natural transition from one song to the next, but also helps build atmosphere and allows the band to play more or less in a continuous stream, much like they do on record. The room is thus always filled with sound, drowning out any and every attempt by the crowd to speak to one another, which, for me at least, is one of the most vital aspects of a black metal experience. Although the songs from “Orgia”, 2015’s “Söngvar elds og óreiðu” and indeed new cuts like “Blessun” are all intrinsically different in style, there is an impeccable flow to the concert, as the band moves from the melodic grandeur of the former, through the unpredictable dynamics of the new stuff, to the raw chaos of the début. Even the extemporary drum solo that erupts in the wake of “Ég byggði dyr í eyðimörkinni” feels appropriate. The subsequent “Alsæla” has me on the verge of tears by virtue of its magnificence, before the titular “Algleymi” brings the show to a stylish conclusion — much too early, one might say. Indeed, if one were forced to find one disappointing aspect of the concert, it would be that many an excellent track — not least the epic “Ísland, steingelda krummaskuð” or perhaps “Hof” from the band’s 2017 split with Sinmara — were shunned from the setlist. It is Sunday, however, so I will forgive the quartet this trespass and continue to sing in their praising choir; Misþyrming is without a doubt one of the finest black metal bands out there right now.

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Setlist:

  • 01. Með hamri
  • 02. Orgia
  • 03. Með svipur á lofti
  • 04. Blessun
  • 05. Söngur heiftar
  • 06. Ég byggði dyr í eyðimörkinni
  • 07. Alsæla
  • 08. Algleymi

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