Review: Endalok – Úr draumheimi viðurstyggðar

Today’s main course is Endalok, an atmospheric aka Icelandic black metal band hailing from, of course, Iceland, founded in July 2016. After a promising demo called Englaryk, released in 2016, Endalok now shows its next sign of life with the EP Úr draumheimi viðurstyggðar, roughly translated as ‘from a dream world of abominations’. And that right there is all the confirmed information there is to be found about this band, that, for reasons unknown to mankind, has shrouded itself in mystery. No info on members, the only tangible evidence, if that at all, is a picture with a masked person in it, making it likely, though not certain, this is a one-man project. Apparently Endalok prefers to let the music speak for itself. Oh well, onward then.

Let’s not beat around the bush, Úr draumheimi viðurstyggðar is a release that will need more than a few spins to fully unfold itself and even then it’s still not for the faint of heart. Though only 23 minutes in length, it eventually offers an intense musical journey that feels much longer, leaving you feeling as if all lust to live has been drained from every single pore of your body after album closer Holdgerving Andskotans (‘The embodiment of the devil’) has died out. Opener Afskræming holds og sálar (meaning something like ‘Distorted flesh and soul’) immediately creates an extremely uncomfortable, oppressing atmosphere that submerges you in darkness and despair which will never truly leave you as the album progresses. It might subside ever so slightly at times, but in the back of your mind it’s always going to be there. Always.

This disturbing effect is achieved by the abundant use of sounds, varying from eerie, mysterious to outright frightening, combined with unhuman, manic screams and growls cast in a gloomy, nerve wrecking frame of fear-inducing, aggressive black metal of the filthiest type. The relentlessly pounding drums within the constantly singing, humming and buzzing rhythm of the music are the excellent environment for the insane chants the singer, there’s no other way to describe this, spits out. However, with lyrical themes covering internal conscience, resurrection and after death communication there really is no better way to add the vocals than said spitting, so they in fact are spot on in my opinion. To cite the artist: ‘All in all these songs have the common thread of internal struggle and finding confidence in spite of hopelessness’.

Admittedly, the first time my ears met with Úr Draumheimi Viðurstyggðar I couldn’t help but wonder what on earth had crossed my path this time, but that quickly changed when I had found the courage to give it a second spin. When you give this an honest chance and are willing to invest some time you will find an ingeniously woven web of the various emotions that are inseparable to the phenomenon of inner struggle deeply embedded in the multiple layers of desperation and fear that form Endalok’s music. Credit where credit is due, whoever Endalok is or are, there’s definitely a healthy dose of potential here, both in composing and execution of the songs. Complex, multi-layered, atmospheric, exhaustingly intense pieces of music, not much more to be desired and therefore a must for black metal fans. Think of this for a minute: if ever there would be a musical depiction of desolation, it would likely be called Úr Draumheimi Viðurstyggðar.

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