For a country with such a small population Iceland continues to birth some of the most interesting music, and particularly in the realm of black metal. Svartidauði have quite rightly been positioned at the forefront of this and 2012’s Flesh Cathedral stands up as evidence in all its macabre glory, meanwhile Wormlust added their first length to the Icelandic BM tapestry last year with The Feral Wisdom.
Naðra is a new entity in this realm, or perhaps not that new at all. The band’s Metal Archives page lists their formation as 2008 but it was only last month that they released their first demo tape, Eitur, which is a wretched salvo of caustic black metal that’s chillingly raw and equally ambitious.
In classic fashion, the three-piece offers very little information about themselves. A scantily updated Facebook page and a Bandcamp account makes up their online presence and images of the band with faces obscured are all that we see of them. It serves to strengthen the obscure and mysterious air that they are clearly going for, even if it can be a tired one at times.
These two tracks that make up the demo are clearly influenced by BM of the old school order but still riddled with glossy melodies at the same time. ‘Fjallið’ sets a tone straight away, unleashing a firestorm of riffs that nod to Nordic brethren. The vocals are your typical shrieks from the abyss and thanks to the relatively polished production value of this demo, the vocals aren’t buried beneath a blanket of indecipherable guitar noise and as a result are just as much a part of this demo as the searing riffs are.
‘Falið’ is the shimmering jewel of the demo though, where Naðra fully unfurl themselves with this 13 minute gem of burning black metal.
Piercing classic BM riffs kick off before leading into a blast-heavy verse that Sargeist would be proud of, while the song also gives Naðra the chance to show off a few more shades of their palette with a more paced mid-section that reels in the chaos, if only for a moment, and creates an almost-doom tone. Of course this is only a brief respite before the mire begins bubbling up once again into familiar BM territory.
Eitur is intense and atmospheric, an easy cliché to describe black metal of this ilk but Naðra have crafted that very tone and yet the end product is anything but clichéd or sounding worn out. The hallmarks of great black metal are all there but Naðra’s grit and vigour is definitely their own.
The one flaw of the demo is its brevity, cutting out after the grandeur of ‘Falið’, leaving behind a cold vacant emptiness. Much like Svartidaudi, Naðra seems like a band primed for the splendour that only an album can provide. We wait patiently.