Dynfari are a five-piece band that hail from Iceland and dare turn the tables on the good old subgenre poker. See, they do not make atmospheric black metal, but “black metal influenced, heavily atmospheric music” if you go by the promo blurp, or “sonic hypnosis”, if you trust Facebook – which you never should. On the other hand, you can mostly trust metal-archives.com, and there they are categorized as atmospheric black metal indeed. What a dilemma.
So with the first potential readers confused and scared off by that horrible introduction, let’s dig into what really matters, which is the music. Dynfari have been around since 2010, and with Myrkurs er þörf they release their 5th full length. The record holds 8 tracks and adds up to 46 minutes of atmospheric post-rock-and-black-metal-put-in-a-blender somberness. Think Sólstafir, Alcest and Agalloch, and you are not far off. Their lyrical themes deal with the philosophy of life, death, the universe, loss, hope and sorrow, and their sound reflects that. There are lots of clean and slightly distorted guitars that paint a soundscape with tasteful amounts of reverb and delay, there is a beautifully sounding bass that lays a solid foundation beneath that airy guitar sweetness, and there is a drummer that sometimes meekly caresses the cymbals in the background to enhance the atmosphere, but can go into a full-on blastbeat if provoked. Last but not least there is a voice which is far from what I was expecting for this type of music. Jóhann Örn is the man on the mic, and he does not utilize the black metal scream on this record. Most of the time he does not really sing either. Much of his vocals on Myrkurs er þörf actually sound like he just yells out his lyrics in frustration. It’s probably not what many fans of the genre would wish for, but for me, it works. Also, I think it adds a lot to the tone and mood of the record.
Speaking of Jóhann Örn, he does more than just sing, he is also credited with bass, accordion, synths and guitars. Beside him we have Jón Emil (percussion, guitars), Martin Tsenov (guitars) and Bragi Knutsson (guitars). With every band member being credited with guitar work, you would think they planned to be a bit more show-off about it. But no, the instrumental work is very subtle, song oriented, effective. When there is a solo or outstanding passage, it is woven into the song structure and serves a purpose. There is not a lot of showiness here in general, this is an atmospheric and somber record with focus on emotions.
In the beginning I mentioned Sólstafir, Alcest and Agalloch. That was meant to indicate the general genre and musical neighbors. I think Dynfari have a sound that is very much their own, and I like it. The music is also supported by a dreamy, dynamic production. Not even the short outbursts of blastbeats will sound too heavy, instead the whole record invites you to dreamily stare out of your window and watch snow fall in slow motion.
I like Myrkurs er þörf a lot. It did not wow me at first listen, but it is a really enjoyable journey, and I feel that it will grow on me with every further listen. This is one of those records that I will come back to once the days grow shorter and shadows longer.