Dynfari 01When it comes to selecting albums to review, I rely on a tried-and-mostly-tr00 method of meticulous selection that’s been proven to garner conversations around water bubblers and soda machines the world over: I sometimes randomly just pick shit from a list and think, “Okay, that’s cool.  Let’s give that a shot.” Behold, today’s selection is Iceland’s Dynfari, a duo I knew absolutely nothing about prior to handpicking their newest (and third) album, Vegferð tímans. Other than being labeled as “atmospheric black metal,” I went into Vegferð tímans blind. However, after giving many spins over the last couple of weeks, I wasn’t prepared for the surprising amount of glacial beauty and dark comfort that Vegferð tímans contained.

With some exceptions, I would even go as far as to say there’s very little of what you would call “black metal” on Vegferð tímans save for the first three tracks, which reminds me of Drudkh with the atmospherics of Sigur Rós. After instrumental opener “Ljósid” shimmers and pummels in a mid-paced crawl, “Óreiða” gently eases you in with some simple chords, a sole violin, and some slow drumming before guitarist/bassist/vocalist Jóhann Örn screeches and howls over the terse, steady rhythms of drummer/guitarist Jón Emil. All of it is competently played, but the problem is that it’s fairly run-of-the-mill. Not much, other than the introductory violin, grabs you and takes hold.

It’s not until fourth song (and album turn-around point) “Hafsjór” that the inherent beauty of Vegferð tímans begins to glisten like the moon on a colossal glacier. Örn’s beautiful baritone hymnal singing meshes well with the higher screams, and the soft acoustic guitars offer a beautiful contrast to the blackened riffing, the latter of which also reminds me of prime Austere. The “Vegferð” trilogy that wraps up the album also gives glimpses of brilliance, with “Vegferð II – Ad Astra” being the showcase. Soft female vocals, crooning male chants, shimmering acoustic guitars, and of course blastbeats and trebly guitars because, after all, this is a black metal band, exhibit a band with promise this early in their career, and is the one song I keep coming back to over and over, despite some hiccups.

Dynfari 02

“Wait,” I hear you gasping. “Hiccups? Dude, what now?” My complaints are two-fold. Trimming some of the longer, more droning parts on an album that feels a lot longer than the 55-minutes presented, could alleviate some of the dragging. And although the production is quite warm and undeniably dynamic, the mix has some major issues. There are some definite artifacts happening on here, such as the “whoooomp-whooooomp” around the 2:52 mark of “Vegferð II – Ad Astra” and some clipping on “Vegferð III – Myrkrið.” Both are apparent on either headphones or speakers, and they pull you out of an otherwise engaging listening experience. In fact, I would be interested to hear them do away with the black metal entirely and just go full-on folk, as they do it quite well.

As my virgin experience with Dynfari has come to a close, I may not have been entirely bowled over by Vegferð tímans, but they are a band with some definite promise. With a little bit more editing and some shedding of blackened tropes, I see them going on a long, fruitful voyage ahead. As it is, consider me intrigued, as what I heard on here shows some incredible ideas just waiting to come to fruition.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Code666 Records
Websites:  DynfariOfficial | Facebook.com/Dynfari
Release Dates: EU: 2015.03.23 | NA: 04.07.2015

  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    Based on the little I have heard so far, I think this band could definitely pull off something awesome. Reminds me of This Will Destroy You’s heavier stuff. But I agree on the more folk-oriented approach, I will be keeping tabs on these guys for the future. Great review as per usual, Grymm!

  • Arsath

    Is that a triple ouroboros I spy…

  • Gonzalo Salazar

    Did you say that the guitarist/bassist/vocalist’s name is J.Örn?

    • Grymm

      So THAT explains it!!!

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Does every single band from Iceland have to be compared to Sigur Rós?

    • Grymm

      I *was* about to call them “Björknagar” but I used restraint here. ;)

      I kid… but they do have the same command of atmospherics as Sigur Rós.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        “Björknagar” would have been great…

  • Doomdeathrosh

    Somewhere in a land FARI FARI away…there was one atmospheric doommetal band among quite a few….but they showed promise of something new, something different…..and now they still promise!

  • Jóhann Örn

    Hi there, and thanks for this heartwarming review of our album! You should have kept the Björknagar part in, that cracked me up.

    I must correct you on one point though: the “whoooomp-whooooomp” sound you hear and mention is entirely intentional. I can understand why you might think it’s a mistake, but in context it makes perfect sense. The word sung both before and after this sample is “hjartslátt” or “heartbeat” which is exactly what the sound is. There was a technical problem in this same quarter of the song though that was impossible to fix. I dare you to find it! The perils of recording an album in DIY fashion…

    I’d love to hear where the clipping you hear takes place, because both we and our sound guy are completely oblivious to it.

    Otherwise, thanks for your kind and honest words. I think you are spot on with some of what is coming. As this album was mostly recorded 2 years ago, it is both interesting and enlightening seeing people predict where we have gone sonically since then… because we know, and you will see.

    • Grymm

      Not a problem, Johann, and thank YOU for the kind words as well!

      I didn’t know that was a heartbeat! My Icelandic is horrible, and some would debate that my English is as well, and I’ve lived in North America forever. The clipping I’ll have to get back to you with, as the promo is on my computer at home and I’m on my to work.

      And I can’t wait to hear what you guys have cooked up as a follow-up, as this is a promising, and rather cool, album! :)

      • Grymm

        From 4:13-4:44 of “Vegferð III – Myrkrið”, where the bass comes in, it sounds like a very light ticking noise, almost like scissors snipping. It may also be an artifact from the promo copy.

        Very sorry this reply was late, and again, thank you for the kind words. I am looking forward to the next album!

        • Jóhann Örn

          No prob. What you are hearing is an acoustic guitar, plucking a two-string chord. It’s low in the mix, but very evident in live shows.

  • madhare

    I was just browsing through the reviews of this year, and I stumbled here. …how the hell have I missed this!?

    These guys sound amazing. Like you said, sure there’s room for improvement but this is pretty damn good already. This reminds me a lot of Moonsorrow, in a good way.

    I totally agree that there is very little “black metal” here. And that’s why I like it. Sure there are blackened elements, but at least I don’t associate this in any way with proper black metal. Maybe we should use something like “Blackened atmospheric metal”?

    So, ginormous belated thank you for digging such a jewel out for us!

    • madhare

      Even though nobody is going to read this stuff anymore, I wish to record this for the generations to come.

      I already mentioned this album in my top-list for 2015, but it has kept growing on me all the time even more. And now in the snowy fogs of January this fits the mood perfectly. I don’t really think there’s much to improve here anymore. I don’t find any parts too long or droning. In fact, I often feel the album is over way too soon.

      And finding the lyrics (on Youtube) and learning about the concept just made it about a million times better. This album is bloody brilliant. Definitely one of the most beautiful albums of 2015 alongside with A Swarm of the Sun’s Rifts.