Misþyrming - Official Website

Með Hamri

Iceland Country of Origin: Iceland

1. Með Hamri
2. Með Harmi
3. Engin Miskunn
4. Engin Vorkunn
5. Blóðhefnd
6. Aftaka

Review by Fernando on December 20, 2022.

Back in the mid 2010’s the Icelandic black metal scene exploded into the metal world with what seemed like a legion of outstanding bands that brought much needed new life and innovation into black metal, and one such name is Misþyrming.

Misþyrming roared into the metal world with 2015’s Söngvar Elds Og Óreiðu, an album that felt like the next step in black metal evolution and with all the marks of classic black metal refined to perfection, then, in 2019 came Algleymi, which was better in every way and was one of the best albums of 2019, with the band taking a more melodic and refined but no less savage musicality. That album truly turned Misþyrming into a household name, and many, myself included, were waiting with bated breath for what these Icelandic madmen would do next, and at the end of 2022, they delivered. Með Hamri, the band’s third opus, released by Norma Evangelium Diaboli.

One major development for the band in the making of this album is the departure of original drummer H.R.H, who amicably departed the band in early 2022, and while he will be sorely missed, the band found a truly worthy replacement in M.S, the former drummer of the sadly dissolved Svartidauði, the band who truly gave birth to the Icelandic scene. However, some things still stay the same, the rest of the lineup, and in particular, founder, frontman, guitarist and songwriter D.G continues to be the band’s visionaire, as well as producer, as he also handled the engineering and mixing of the album. So, after displaying raw grit, and melodic finesse, where did the band go with Með Hamri? The answer is a culmination of their past work, the continued refinement and improvement of their best qualities, a return to their raw and blistering roots, and the next step in their evolution.

I may come off as a fanboy (because I truly love this band and their music), but I can safely say, without the shadow of a doubt, that Með Hamri is the band’s best album, ever since their debut, the band have raised the bar and stakes, and more importantly they do so by constantly evolving, 3 records and a decade old by next year, and they just keep getting better. So, with that out of the way, where has the band changed and improved yet again? Well, the biggest and most notable improvement is the production, much like the jump in quality from their debut to their sophomore. Með Hamri is another sharp improvement in quality, as D.G. aside from displaying excellent musical talent, is also an excellent sound engineer. Album sounds crisp, and deep, this is the band’s most full sounding and sonically dynamic record, every single instrument, every ambiance, all the little details like keyboards and flourishes like demonic laughter, choirs and some symphonic elements are all audible, in short, this record will be a treat for any audiophiles. And that outstanding production ends up enhancing the music itself and the performances of the band as a whole.

D.G is obviously the main standout, as he handles the lion’s share of production, songwriting and lead vocals, and yes, his vocals are still as demented and gruesome as ever. The production actually lets his unholy growls sound much better than with previous records. The guitars have always been a major standout of Misþyrming, and that continues to be the case, as D.G and T.Í display not just riffs, but are also masters of ambiance with their guitar, making use of distortion and feedback to truly create an ominous and bitter atmosphere that complements the more brutal moments in the album, furthermore, this is also the band’s fiercest album. The riffs are so fast and frenzied they were reminiscent of Funeral Mist, albeit with the band’s own style and flare, but the most striking aspect of the guitars are the moments when songs are opened by truly dissonant and piercing licks, as displayed on the track 'Með Hamri' and the monolithically enshrouding closing track ‘Aftaka’. All in all, if you want a black metal that rips and shreds, Misþyrming’s got you covered, and offers so much more on top of that.

The rhythm section of the band is also good, despite losing H.R.H who was undoubtedly a key contributor for Misþyrming, that being said, the band couldn’t have found a better replacement than M.S, his drumming is of course excellent and not only fills the void left by H.R.H, he also manages to carve his own place in the band, as he displays primitive savagery on the drums, but is also incredibly dynamic and eclectic with his drumming, in fact, the drumming is much more technical and it fits Misþyrming like a glove. Finally there’s bassist G.E and he’s no slouch and is also a strong and essential pillar for the band, as his bass lines complement the drums and are a foil to the guitars, and in the slower sections is where he truly shines, as he can flex his more melodic lines in a dark, twisted way. Overall, while D.G is the band’s ringleader, his songs would not sound as good as they do without his brothers-in-arms supporting him.

The final aspect of this album I want to highlight is actually the atmosphere and sound. Obviously all the members of the band are talented and have their moments to shine, but what’s really different with this record is how everything comes together, the overall atmosphere is relentless and bitter, and all the symphonic and unorthodox flourishes the band adds, further make Með Harmi the band’s darkest record. While both the debut and sophomore where also very dark and unforgiving in their own way, this record is different. The album feels dark, sounds dark and the best way I can describe it in words short of just saying to listen to it. It is a raw black metal record from the latter French scene that spawned Antaeus and S.V.E.S.T., but with much better production, and also being much more sonically dynamic, as the band also add their Icelandic rock and more avant-garde music influences.

It really goes without saying that this album is great. A truly great record, by a great band. To close off, just go listen to it. My only gripe is the fact that the band decided to release this masterpiece in December since I knew it would climb up my top records of the year. And yeah, no best tracks because they’re all good, 6 tracks, no filler, all killer and fully eclectic to boot. Truly the next step in the development of black metal.

Rating: 10 out of 10


Review by Michael on December 20, 2022.

Iceland... eternal frost (at least until the next few years if the mankind keeps the global warming in progress), geysers, fires and trolls everywhere so that even roads must be planned so that they won't be disturbed. It's a wonderful and calm island if there wouldn't be any guys from the black metal scene. With hammers ('Með Hamri') the guys from Misþyrming come just a few days before Christmas to treat the nerves of the listeners. After they rumbled the scene with their second album Algleymi in 2019 they released quite surprising their third album on December 16th. At least I was pretty surprised to see the announcement on the Ván Records mailorder site so I had to order it instantly because I fucking love the last one! And just like the island is full of opposites in its nature so are Misþyrming with their music.

I was pretty speechless when I heard the first song because there isn't too much left of the melodic epic side of Misþyrming, the title track stands literally for the title. Brutal, furious and hateful black metal makes out this song. This is more second wave of black metal than I had expected. No keyboards or melodies, just pure hatred and rage with a lot of angry vocals and insane laughter. This is not a bad start but clearly a big surprise. But the following track 'Með Harmi' (cool Icelandic anagram to 'Með Hamri' which means “with grief”) starts with the usual trademarks. Eerie guitars and very voluminous drums introduce the track which is a very cold catchy crusher. Here the drums are clearly in the foreground and frame the set. The melodies are very hymnal quite similar to the Viking-era Bathory. This track is a real epic black metal beast. Misþyrming also work a lot with some sound collages to create uncomfortable and dissonant atmospheres like in 'Engin Miskunn' (“no mercy”) which again is more fast and relentless black metal like Norwegian Zyklon B (if anybody remembers them and NO, they weren't right-winged!) did on their EP. Especially the half-spoken, half-spit out vocals sound like Aldrahn did back then. Just like before after this track comes another quite catchy one with 'Engin Vorkunn'. This all together combined with some keyboard tunes the band creates a very intense, interesting and diverse album which probably still offers some surprises. I have heard it now several times and still find new facets in the songs that are very impressive and makes the album better with each listen.

The production is very clear and powerful and the sound of the album clearly reflects the cold atmosphere of the country and the band. In some parts it is a little bit sterile and could have got a little bit more out-balanced sound (like in some parts of 'Aftaka') but all in all it sounds pretty much like a frosty black metal album should sound.

Með Hamri may not be the logical further development of the band; I would say it is more a very experimental and courageous step for them with a lot of sounds that one might not have expected. I like the album and if you are a little bit open-minded in black metal you will do so, too. So get your copy and put it under the Christmas tree. Your family will surely love you when you play it loud on the stereo during the holidays (maybe you should start with 'Blóðhefnd', there are some friendly female vocals in!)

Rating: 9 out of 10 hammers