Fire and brimstone from Icelandic Black Metal band Altari, as their volcanic new album Kröflueldar erupts via Svart Records on 14.04.23. Named after a series of eruptions that happened at Krafla in Iceland in 1975, Kröflueldar represents the constant threat of ash that Altari’s music lives under. Kröflueldar was a 9 year series of eruptions, and since the album took almost 9 years to create, Altari felt that it was a fitting title for their scalding and ferocious music.
Fans of Craft, Deathspell Omega, Blut Aus Nord and the more well known Icelandic Black Metal bands like Misþyrming and Sinmara will revel in digging into Kröflueldar’s rotten soil, but there is something far more experimental and avant-garde to be reaped within the whirlwind of sound that Altari produces. With their foundations of sound in the classic eras of early Judas Priest, songs like Leðurblo?kufjandinn call to mind the discordant soundclash of bands like Voivod, Virus and even Sonic Youth in the interplay of melody and disharmony. The bewildering, but utterly charming frenzy of taking the raw sound of metal to the limits breaks through from Altari’s literal geological location in a landscape in constant upheaval. Guitarist and Vocalist Ó.Þ.Guðjónsson notes that; “bands such as Blue Öyster Cult, Interpol, Killing Joke were a big inspiration for us as well for the use of clean guitars as the sound for leads. I expressed a desire to find some balance between the overdriven rhythm and melodic yet clean leads. These bands helped us find that.”
It is through these uncommon and almost blasphemous influences that Altari proves to be a rare gem in the much vaulted Icelandic Black Metal crown, giving Kröflueldar the dna of a band that feels they have so much potential and fervor brewing up in their molten kiln. Tracks like Sy?rulu?ður with the vocals of Gyða Margrét are as delicate and subtle, cloaked in smoky atmosphere, as they are dark and brooding, giving hints of bands like This Mortal Coil and Cocteau Twins.
When Guðjónsson states that the intention was an “overall desire for us to get away from the sound that has been a gateway for others here in the scene” they imbued Kröflueldar with a beguiling essence that’s hard to pin down, but magnetically unique. The co-production work of Stephen Lockhart, a staple of the Icelandic Black Metal scene and sound, is of quality but something very different from his signature work, born from what Guðjónsson describes as a need for a “new sonic approach,” Kröflueldar’s sonic eruptions, from the low earthy rumblings to the cacophonic and epic high notes, feels thoroughly worked but raw enough to be unsettling in the new ground it uncovers. Svart Records head honcho Tomi Pulkki expands on the reasons behind his new signing, saying that; “I found their approach refreshingly idiosyncratic in the way it mixes cleaner sounds with distortion. Altari brings something new to Black Metal and that is a rare thing these days”.
Adorned with the psychedelic album cover by guitarist K.R.Guðmundsson, which evokes the storms that come when a volcano erupts, Kröflueldar is a worthy song of praise to the wild and destructive threat of nature unleashed.