Misþyrming (Misthyrming) was apparently a one-man black metal project in Iceland for a few years before mustering members and releasing a full length album. That album, Söngvar elds og óreiðu suddenly appeared as the most popular album under “black metal” on Bandcamp with little buzz surrounding it and it’s an early album of the year contender.
The band mixes a core of swirling frostbitten black metal with almost every other conceivable style of black metal in a remarkably cohesive “kitchen sink” approach. Misthyrming swirl their way through icy blasts, slow thrashy riffs, weird Imperial Triumphant style bent riffs, ambient passages, jangly Polish style riffs reminiscent of Mgla and Nocel, and even a few dirge-like passages of blackened doom.
The skill with which they weave these styles into a cohesive whole is breathtaking. Almost every song shows a different style (sometimes two or three) but the result sounds like an album, not a collection of songs, or an assortment of (killer) riffs. Even with the stylistic acrobatics they've crafted an album that showcases the essence of great black metal. It’s adventurous without meandering, chaotic without being out of control. The result is a sound and feeling that early pioneers’ work can’t evoke for those of us who've grown accustomed to clarity and studio production quality.
There are a couple of points that hold the album back from pure brilliance. One or two of the riffs sound like “black metal chord voicings 101”, and the dynamically compressed mix sounds a bit claustrophobic. That may be intentional but a more open mix would have showcased the shapeshifting black metal assault and otherwise excellent production.
None of that really takes away from the overall quality of the album. There is no other band quite like Misthyrming; Söngvar elds og óreiðu is an extremely impressive debut that is especially worth checking out given that it’s Pay What You Want.