Enraptured by the Satanic majesty of the many divergent earthquakes of Deathspell Omega and the glowering ache of Leviathan, the thousand-fold aftershocks of occult black metal art across Europe often peak within the Icelandic black metal scene. A consistent source of dissonant and atmospheric inspiration, groups like Svartidauði, Misþyrming, and Wormlust have created some greater stir among the occult and atmospheric sensibilities of black metal as a whole. In an effort to extend his own vision of psychedelic black metal H.V Lyngdal (Wormlust, Martröð) pushed towards the darker, harsher extremes with two independently released EPs under the name Ljáin in 2016. This compilation collects the two comparable releases in the form of one very capable full-length and sets them upon physical media for the first time.
The first EP ‘Endasálmar’ is a thickly echoing phantasm’s rage set to the roar of a thousand trailing tremolo riffing guitars. The effect is some sort of art-metal version of Ildjarn‘s tumbling mid-90’s crackle expressed through the freely-moving intensity of occult black metal dissonance. Still clearly a Wormlust-related project in terms of guitar style Ljáin instead ventures into lo-fi atmospherics and decorative harsh noise. ‘Endasálmar’ is more of a streamlined attack that often resembles the purest early 90’s Norwegian fluid unpredictability. ‘Klofnar Tungur’ is a more resigned beast with further echoing and seemingly lower fidelity that gels best with the heightened harsh noise experimentation. Though I prefer the first EP, I love how the second feels as the second movement of a full-length listening experience.
The art here is in performance and the phantom caterwauling and reverb-harassed sound is only dressing upon a listen evocative of early depressive suicidal black metal rather than current atmospheric trends. The obscured howls and nearly Urfaust-ian crowing on ‘Klofnar Tungur’ are less sinister as they are cries of frustration and anguish. And even if some catharsis for psychotic depression isn’t felt, the pairing of painful screams and black metal riffing are satisfyingly psycho-active enough for a Wormlust or Skáphe enthusiast to dive right into. Though it is a harsh experience that may never be iterated on again I think Ljáin‘s work is well worth hearing, and the 12″ LP is a thing of beauty for collectors. “Svartigaldur” and “Klofnar tungur” were highlights for my taste but when previewing I’d also suggest “Hlekkir holdsins”.
|Released||February 28, 2018|
|BUY/LISTEN on Signal Rex’ Bandcamp!||Ljáin on Metal-Archives|
Ég kem alveg af fjöllum. 3.5/5.0
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