Review: Naðra – “Eitur”

In the last few months I’ve been fascinated by the Icelandic metal scene. Musically it seems to take what Norway and Sweden are doing with death and black metal but somehow make it even darker and, in many cases, stranger. A good example of this would be Wormlust who take atmospheric black metal and infuse it with psychedelic craziness. Naðra take a slightly more conventional approach to black metal but emphasise a sense of technicality and speed. Eitur is their first release, and was released on April 1 of this year digitally and on a limited number of tapes. There are two songs on this EP, the first of which (‘Fjallið’) is four minutes but the second (‘Falið’) is 13 minutes long, so there’s actually a good 18 minutes of music on this demo tape.

That it is a demo tape is immediately clear when you listen to it, with a very raw, cold production. The benefit of it is that it sounds somehow more human, as if you could see them playing it right there with no assistance. It’s cold but precise, you can hear all the instruments very clearly and it’s mixed surprisingly well. There is a keen sense of melody at play here with a technical proficiency not so common in black metal these days, with many bands opting to keep things simple and focus on atmosphere. Naðra don’t entirely forget the importance of atmosphere in black metal, but they aren’t willing to sacrifice furious tremolo-picked riffs, blastbeats, and pained screams to achieve it.

Thankfully it paid off for them as the second track ‘Falið’ has a real sense of what black metal was thought to be back in the second wave. There is a moment about 10 minutes in that reminds me heavily of some of Burzum’s music, and I think Burzum is a pretty apt comparison for this EP. The vocals in particular remind me a lot of Varg’s on albums like Filosofem and Hsiv Lysset Tar Oss. This demo in fact at times reminds me of Torture Chain and at other times of Altar of Plagues.

I really enjoyed this demo and I think there’s good things in store for this band. All the essential elements are there: strong musicianship, memorable riffs, precise drumming, and a wonderfully raw vocal style. The two tracks on this EP are a good display of the kind of sound this band are aiming for, but I think it is immediately clear after listening to it that they’re actually capable of even more. Keep an eye on this band.