Review: Sinmara Orchestrate The Black On Stellar Sophomore
Mysterious Icelandic band Sinmara are back with a molten follow-up eruption…err album.
[Self-indulgent introductory paragraph usually taking the form of some niche literary reference, a contemporary film appraisal, or often a completely unrelated personal anecdote about picking citrus on a farm during childhood holidays, rounded out with an extremely tenuous link to the band or album’s topic occurring within the penultimate sentence. Or not at all]
[Another introductory paragraph. This time focusing on providing context as if the audience have miraculously stumbled into a review of an Icelandic black metal album on an obscure metal site purely by chance, possessing no prior knowledge of the band/genre, and desiring to learn it by means of reading an album review rather than investigating it on their own. Often used for padding]
Look, it’s gonna be hard for me to give a review that even pretends to have the semblance of objectivity. As someone who could potentially wear a different Sinmara shirt every day of the week, I’m unequivocally A Big Fan™ of their music. However, I will try to balance this unbridled affinity for their caustic brand of black metal with a modicum of restraint. When the promo copy of Hvísl Stjarnanna appeared unannounced in the inbox late one night back in January it felt like an apparition. We’re so accustomed to being bombarded with press leading up to an album that having something materialise without any of the lead-in hype almost felt like a mirage. A furtive enchantment befitting an enigmatic sound.
Self-indulgent anecdotes aside, you’re probably wondering how the record sounds. Does it live up to the singular malefic fire of the band’s 2014 debut Aphotic Womb? Or does it tread farther down the melodic path as we heard on the interim EP Within The Weaves Of Infinity? Before you hit play below, plug in your finest headphones, and skip back to track 1 (‘Apparitions’).
The reason this review is going up post-release is partly due to [reiterate personal anecdote], but mostly because this album has been difficult for me to pin down in text to any meaningful extent (not that I managed to do an adequate job verbally either). Yes, it’s instantly engrossing, but there is an underlying depth and immersive intricacy to almost every moment of the record. Each spin allows a different layer of a different moment to form shape, and subsequently transform its surroundings, ad infinitum. The band’s potency still seems yet to have reached a plateau. Their acrid riffs have intertwined with the serpentine melodies in a seamless and ultimately mesmerising manner. However, the individual parts come together in a way which renders the songs far superior to just a mere collection of elements. Hvísl Stjarnanna may not reach the overt intensity of something like Aphotic Womb‘s ‘Verminous’ or ‘Mountains Of Quivering Bones’ but when the composition is taken as a whole, the impression is more sonically profound than anything they’ve penned to date.
Guitar parts seem less combined and more orchestrated. Rhythms seem less played and more exorcised. While the band don’t venture into what you’d typically dub as ‘atmospheric’, there is an undeniable presence which pervades the record. Alluring and arcane, it beckons you deeper into the sulphurous mist.