Úlfúð - Of Existential Distortion review
|Album:||Of Existential Distortion|
|Release date:||March 2023|
01. Where Strange Lights Dance
02. Tears Of Terra
03. Mockery Theatre
05. Gods Left Behind
07. An Elegy To A Paradise Out Of Reach
08. Leviathan Dreams
What exactly do we have here, I wonder? Is it black or is it death? Well, whatever Úlfúð have pulled off here, it's pretty darn good.
Formed from the dramatic land of fire and ice comes one of Iceland's hottest black metal exports Úlfúð. Having established themselves back in 2015, Úlfúð amazingly only managed to release one short EP, that being First Sermon back in 2018, so we've had to endure a whole eight-year wait for this first full-length release, Of Existential Distortion, and boy was it worth the wait.
Now you could be tempted simply into calling Of Existential Distortion blackened death metal, with equally strong portions of black metal and death metal, but on closer listening you can't help but notice that there's much more depth to this album than meets the eye. I'm pretty sure when you think of the genre blackened death, bands such as Behemoth and Belphegor will first spring into mind, but Úlfúð is unlike any of those bands. There's a certain rawness behind their sound, they aren't exactly what you call refined, and not necessarily brutal either, and it goes without saying, they're certainly rich in melody. I'm very much reminded of Uada when it comes to those hypnotic, rhythmic, melodious tremolo riffs, but then add a sprinkle of dissonance to the mix, along with an overwhelming, satisfying dark ambience, and what you have here is something rather unique.
For me, the main standout factor for Of Existential Distortion has to be its sound quality, even more so than the songwriting. The layering and mix is so excellently produced that even the more underwhelming sections of the album are made up for by its immense sound quality, which is then accompanied by Danielsen Imsland’s agonizing shrieks and wails of utter despair. There's a certain intensity that grows within, reaching your very soul and never letting you go, through a perfect balance of dark gripping dissonance and haunting melodies.
Now, the album doesn't exactly begin all guns blazing, but it does grow in both complexity and sinisterness towards the latter stages of the album. Take note of the final two tracks, starting with what for me is easily the best track on the album, "An Elegy To A Paradise Out Of Reach", a blackened atmospheric monster of a song, which is then followed by the most dissonant song on the album, "Leviathan Dreams"; you could say this is a healthy slice of Deathspell Omega with the clear dissodeath elements featured.
Of Existential Distortion is only the first full-length release by Úlfúð, and a good one it is at that, so these great new Icelandic prospects will certainly be a band I will be keeping a close eye on in the near future, and I hope you will do so too.
||Written on 24.03.2023 by|
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