Dynfari
Sem Skugginn


3.5
great

Review

by Hernan M. Campbell STAFF
October 25th, 2012 | 27 replies


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Though offering nothing that we haven't already heard before in the atmospheric Black Metal scene, Sem Skugginn still stands its ground as a very solid effort.

The artwork that conceals the music of Sem Skugginn induces an almost ominous impression to the observer. Similar to Dynfari's previous eponymous debut, we are again met with a simple image depicting a cold and desolate winter. Perhaps meant as a homage to their Icelandic roots, but the symbolism of winter, and its usage of the colors black and white, speaks volumes about the nature of this album's content. "Black", "white", and "winter" all share an identical symbolic meaning, the representation of death. And death, as well as the emotions and thoughts that naturally arise in its utterance, play a major influence in the music of Sem Skugginn.

Opening with the dreary ambience of "Glötun", Dynfari slowly begin to expose their world to us. And it's a gloomy one. As the simple strumming of a few notes on the guitar fill our ears, with its sounds fluctuating in atmospheric dissonance, we immediately start to feel Dynfari's hypnotizing allure drawing us deeper and deeper into an abyss of endless black, a place so bleak that any source of light would find it hopeless to even illuminate. As we transcend beyond the ambient fog of "Glötun", we enter into the reality of Sem Skugginn. Songs like "Svartir Himnar" and "Myrkrasalir" exhibit the true nature of the album, bombarding us with the impassioned yet discordant essence of typical Black Metal. But the music encompasses a much more abstract agenda than simply delivering a brutal sound. Like most atmospheric Black Metal efforts, each song contains a series of progressive musical structures. For example, most of the orchestrations of the album tend to reflect moments of delicacy as well intensity. There's an eclectic range of influences that are embodying the music here, which is most evident in songs like "Hjartmyrkvi" and "Sem Skugginn" epics comprised of lengthy musical arrangements that explore contrasting melodic movements. Coated with haunting melodic textures, each song is very versatile in sound, featuring ariel soundscapes, gentle folk passages, and of course, a release of eruptive aggression. But no matter the change within the instrumentation, the mood of the album always manages to retain its melancholic theme, constantly suppressing us with the suffocating embrace of despair.

After perceptually absorbing all it has to offer, Sem Skugginn proves to be a very entertaining album. Though nothing innovative among its affiliated genres, it is still certainly a host to some very captivating moments. The musicianship, and the emotions Dynfari wants their sounds to induce, are accomplished with exquisite precision. With every chord and riff drenched in cryptic distortion and all the emphatic drum rhythms that erupt with thunderous volume, to the growls of frustrated anger that express animosity with every breath, Dynfari do an exceptional job at constructing a sound that consumes us into its own personal hell. And the most impressive aspect of it all is that this album was composed by only two multi-instrumentalist, Jóhann Örn and Jón Emil, under the limitations and modest budget that plague artist in the early stages of their career. Aesthetically, Sem Skugginn expands on the sound its predecessor, Dynfari, but it doesn't really incorporate any new direction in style. Instead choosing to follow along the paths of its influences like Burzum, and particularly of that ventured by fellow Icelanders, Sólstafir. But artistically, it's quite ambitious. As I said before, Sem Skugginn doesn't show us anything we haven't already heard before, but at least Dynfari tries to offer us more than the usual blast beats and roaring guitars.

There's a lot of unique instrumentation being incorporated throughout the album, such as the calming flute solos in "Sem Skugginn", as well as the delicate guitar interludes that are encountered throughout most of the lengthier songs. All of these characteristics are conspicuously derived from influences outside of their Black Metal circle, as we find Dynfari transcending their way into genres like Progressive rock. It's admirable to see this young group expanding on their sound, but they tend to indulge too much on similar concepts and patterns. Almost every song follows the same musical sequences of going from ambient to boisterous, as well as vice versa, to the point where any sense of suspense is lost because we can kind of predict where they're going to take us next. Thus making the album sound repetitive and, quite frankly, played-out. I suppose there isn't much more that can be said about Sem Skugginn other than the fact that it is a solid attempt at atmospheric Black Metal. It's a very interesting album, and one that appeals to a wider audience because it contains enough brutality for the headbangers, while exhibiting enough experimental credibility to intrigue those who seek more venturous music.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
October 25th 2012


4469 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm starting to get into Black metal, so I suppose this is my first write up for it.



Stream the album here:

http://auralmusic.bandcamp.com/album/sem-skugginn



This review was also uploaded in these fine music websites:

http://www.thealtreview.net/

http://mediasnobs.com/

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
October 25th 2012


4469 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Also, sorry about the image, the mods will fix that up soon.

Atari
Contributing Reviewer
October 25th 2012


20563 Comments


Good review man pos'd : )

Digging: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - Piano Concerto No. 1 in B? Minor

GiaNXGX
October 25th 2012


4867 Comments


Awesome :] . Your take on black metal reviews is really paper-backer; I'm kinda accustomed to Crysis, Noctus, & Hawks reviews. It's good to see you getting into black metal dude.

GiaNXGX
October 25th 2012


4867 Comments


Check out Sargeist's Let the Devil In. Amazing black metal, the guitarwork, drumming, and raw
production - are all stellar. It is really fitting since you are getting into Lavey's Satanic Bible
hahaha.

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
October 25th 2012


16388 Comments


nice review, pos

GiaNXGX
October 25th 2012


4867 Comments


yeah def; it is only a matter of time for paper to discover his new favorite band - a obscure jazzy kvlt bm side-project. Hoooooooooolllyyyyyyy fuuuuukiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnnn shhhhhiiiiiiiiittttt agreed.

GiaNXGX
October 25th 2012


4867 Comments


And electronic pulsations penetrating jazz-fusion limpid environments....

GiaNXGX
October 25th 2012


4867 Comments


and strenuous riffs meandering en route to colossal astroblemes...

GiaNXGX
October 25th 2012


4867 Comments


Vagarious aeons of unbearable darkness collapse upon Paperbackwriter's taste agreed.

Time's blood flows, our souls are released
Silentium est aureum

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
October 25th 2012


4469 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks everyone for the feedback.



@Gian

Thanks, man. And yes, I will definitely check out that band out.



@Captain

Yeah, I've gone from melodic death metal to black metal stuff. This is pretty much your influence though, Captain. You've gotten me into some good metal.

GiaNXGX
October 25th 2012


4867 Comments


CaptainDooRight; always transfiguring other people's music tastes towards the transcendent realms of
meritorious metal.

GiaNXGX
October 25th 2012


4867 Comments


I just edited the post...... Needs more wannabe english-majorness ;D

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
October 25th 2012


4469 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@Captain

Yeah I'm really digging the atmospheric subgenre of Black Metal, I just discovered this band (You've probably already heard of them) Ved Buens Ende- They're a black metal/progressive metal band with really sick Jazz passages, they've become my obsession lately. If you know any other bands like these, let me know cause you know all the best stuff when it comes to metal.

GiaNXGX
October 25th 2012


4867 Comments


They're a black metal/progressive metal band with really sick Jazz passages


I'm a psychic. Gonna look for them on metallum btw.

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
October 25th 2012


4469 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Sweet, man. I'm checking out Sargeist's Let the Devil In tonight, they sound great.

GiaNXGX
October 25th 2012


4867 Comments


Oh, now I remember. I've heard some of their stuff on youtube in the past but haven't heard the whole thing. Whenever it comes to jazzy black metal I always recommend this band: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8rCtNrcMhk

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
October 25th 2012


4469 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I've heard of Arcturus, but dont know any others. Thanks man, you're the best.

GiaNXGX
October 25th 2012


4867 Comments


dam http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SY94KemG0E

YoYoMancuso
October 25th 2012


11443 Comments


you're coming up on 100 reviews quickly my friend. congrats for sticking around this long.

review was great as usual, although i've never been a fan of BM in any variation. pos'd



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