‘Allt þetta helvítis myrkur’
Dark Metal FFO: Sólstafir, Alcest, Kontinuum, Katatonia, Potentiam, Panopticon
As a founding member of Sólstafir, the split between the band and Guđmundur Óli Pálmason in 2015 was not an amicable one. The fallout from that well, fall out, became relatively well documented on metal news sites with a “he said, she said” rhetoric providing endless clickbait. Unperturbed, Pálmason joined forces once again with his former Potentiam bandmate Einar Thorberg Guđmundsson for Katla with the band ready to unleash their second album ‘Allt þetta helvítis myrkur’.
With the debut album, ‘Móðurástin’ really set out Katla’s stall out as one of Iceland’s leading dark metal bands. Now, with ‘Allt þetta…’ the band are attempting to capitalise upon the warm, geothermic reception received with that first offering. What the listener gets with this sophomore album is a beautifully produced album that really encapsulates the cold, biting Icelandic landscape as keyboard soundscapes beautifully flow and dance throughout like the Aurora borealis itself. This rising and falling, particularly during the epic title track is wonderfully juxtaposed against crushing doom guitars which provide a stark contrasting melody that keeps the listener fully engaged throughout the ‘Allt þetta…’ three-part narrative. A narrative of this style needs charisma and a skilled orator to really bring an album of this nature home and it is Guđmundsson’s subtle vocal prowess and arrangement skills that really are the real defining factor of ‘Allt þetta…’.
What ‘Allt þetta…’ offers is a sparse, bleak transborean journey into the long cold midwinter night. This is searching album that provides more and more with each listen; yes, it requires some serious listening and without it, it can fade into background music, but with a conscious ear and open mind ‘Allt þetta…’ has the potential to really provide that soundtrack to the winter months because after all… winter is coming.