Sem Skugginn

Dynfari is a new band to the blackish metal scene, but they are a prolific one. After forming in 2010, the Icelandic duo of Jón Emil (percussion, guitars) and Jóhann Örn (vocals, bass, guitars) have already released two full-length albums. Their self-titled debut ran just under the 45-minute mark, but their latest release, Sem Skugginn clocks in at 30 minutes longer.

Dynfari play a droning, atmospheric brand of black metal, but luckily it’s not the horrendous funeral doom/droning nonsense that has somehow been taking the metal world by storm. Rather, Dynfari tend to rely mostly on raw ambiance within their music and it’s rarely done with any sort of in-studio shenanigans. The sounds that ooze from the speakers are as organic as they are dreary, and even when the two men drag things down to a frozen crawl, the music on Sem Skugginn doesn’t get under one’s skin. Bands that take a few moons to get their point across in 15-minute songs tend to be as annoying as a canker sore on the side of the tongue, but that’s not the case here.

Dynfari paint a terrifyingly bleak picture with a constant underlying misery and it’s done without the aid of keyboards. When the team decides to unleash a hellish fury of blistering speed and percussive destruction, they explode from the speakers like the best of ‘em. In scattered spots, Dynfari is similar in approach to the likes of Wolves in the Throne Room, Agalloch and Drudkh, but they are a bit more gloomy. In fact, certain elements of their more depressive and foreboding passages are similar to some of Tool’s instrumentals, though not as monumental.

Sem Skugginn is definitely not an album everybody can sink their teeth into. This style of atmospheric/doomy black metal tends to run stale after a few songs, but Dynfari has enough going on in each track to keep things interesting. Definitely worth checking out before purchase, Sem Skugginn is good enough to please fans of this genre, but it’s probably not going to land on too many year-end best-of lists.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Mike Sloan
December 4th, 2012


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