Ah Iceland. The land of hot springs, lava fields, volcanos and metal bands with names that have so very many accent marks. While the Icelandic language is painfully complicated to learn for outsiders, the international language of heavy metal makes the music of the nation much easier to appreciate. One of many talented bands that's put this devastatingly cold island nation on the metal map is Helfró. This black metal ensemble is back with their powerful sophomore release entitled Tálgröf.
Tálgröf, according to Helfró, is a record that is inspired by the dark manifestations of the human mind. It certainly sounds like it, with its intense and dark rhythmic passages. But it also contains more somber sections that provide a piercing introspection on life's existence. This type of dark contemplation is entirely apparent in the frigid and distant "Ildi Óhreins Anda." This song, the band explains, is about lying, manipulation and the harmdoing that comes with those aforementioned activities.
Listen to the brooding tremolo as the track begins only to yield to a filth-inspired verse that features layered vocals covered in just the perfect amount of grime. It's a powerful track with some downright mesmerizing Helfró drumming by Ragnar Sverrisson (who puts on a freakin' clinic on this record btw). A near perfect song that is recorded brilliantly.
Equally impressive is the cut that was featured as the record's lead single, "Fláráð Fræði." I have no idea how to even attempt to pronounce the title of the song but I simply don't care. Simon Thorolfsson's guitars do much of the speaking here in a manner that immediately grabs hold. This particular track, like many on this new record, has a significant amount of death metal influence in both the sonics and the rhythms, making this new record a bit of a departure from Helfró's debut. In this respect Tálgröf is more akin to a band like Norway's Zyklon than anything that's pure black metal. This song comes with a beautifully directed video by Guilherme Henriques.
Even more death metal vibes can be found on "Traðkandi Blómin í Eigin Hjartagarði." This particular song showcases Helfró slowing things down just a touch and even adds a little tinge of industrial to add texture to the composition. This single is not quite at the level as the first two that were released, but it's still a solid cut nonetheless.
With nine short and punchy tracks from Helfró, this is a record for those who like their blackened death metal at a pretty fast clip. It's 35+ minutes of a barrage of killer riffs, crushing blast beats and even some melodies here and there. Certainly an ample amount of material here for many to love and it's just in time for the very beginnings of the winter season.