By now, if you're interested in black metal and have made even the slightest effort to keep up with that the kids are doing these days, the phrase "Icelandic black metal" has probably lost its exotic sheen, and simply become an utterly normal part of your metallic lexicon. Bands like Misþyrming, Naðra, and Sinmara have sold out multiple pressings and become underground festival staples; the country's annual metal festival, Eistnaflug, has become a major player on the European festival circuit; and the scene has grown and evolved so much in the past few years that it may as well be on its own Second (or even Third?) wave—and that's to say nothing of scene OGs Svartidauði, who just sneakily released a scorching new EP earlier this month. Iceland's larger extreme music scene has benefited from that extra attention, too, and is part of how I came across World Narcosis.
The Reykjavik-based quartet dabbled in black metal in their earlier days but have always been slaves to the grind first and foremost. On their new LP, Lyruljóra, the youngsters have doubled down on their atonal, experimental tendencies, and embraced the elements that make them truly unique at home and abroad. They whip together an unpredictable blend of grindcore, noise rock, hardcore, black metal, and screamo, with an emphasis on intricate, emotive songwriting and crackling atmosphere—standout track "Kytra" is a perfect example of both.
Frantic album opener "Depra" splices cold, bright tremolo and strangled, sporadic howls with a thicket of moody, melodic riffs and explosive percussion, setting an ambitious tone for the rest of the album. The melodic, melancholy moments are actually some of their strongest, but when it's time to grind, they fling themselves into the fray with gleeful abandon. While they're adept at navigating the tricky, easy-to-fuck-up world of chaotic metalcore, World Narcosis is also perfectly happy to thumb their noses at extreme metal in general, as heard in the deeply weird helium vocals and noise rock lurch on "Lifra" or the unapologetic skramz vibes on "Gildra."
"I’ve been obsessed with this record since we started writing it," the band's Ægir tells Noisey. "Our last LP, World Coda (2015) took forever to complete and get out, and after that daunting process I made a promise to the band that we wouldn’t take as long with our next record. I’m ecstatic we were able to stand by that promise. The writing process for Lyruljóra saw us at our most connected and collaborative. We played together a lot in the months preceding the recording, recording and listening back to almost every single rehearsal, getting a feel for the flow and working out small details. I like to think all that’s resulted in our most solid and dynamic effort to date, and we’ve already started working on some new material that is already sounding immense and taking us in all sorts of different directions.We’re hoping to play all over in the new year, starting with a UK tour in February."
Why not? plötur! will handle the vinyl and digital releases, while revered Icelandic black metal label Vánagandr will handle the cassette version. Lyruljóra is officially out today, and you can listen to it in its warped entirety below.
World Narcosis UK tour dates with Dead Herring:
Feb 13th - Glasgow @ The 13th Note
Feb 14th - Hull @ tba
Feb 15th - Leeds @ The Meatlocker - w/ Gets Worse, Natterers
Feb 16th - Nottingham @ tba - w/ Gets Worse
Feb 17th - Brighton @ tba
Feb 18th - London @ tba
Kim Kelly is watching the world's downfall on Twitter.