ZAKAZ - Myrkur og dauði (SCHATTENKULT Produktionen CD 2016)
I don’t know what happened that suddenly Icelandic black metal scene got so much attention. It’s almost like a new trend. I do have to admit that some of these bands have a great quality and their success is truly deserved. But some other are simply overrated – I’m not gonna give you names, think for yourself! Anyway, you have to admit that this is very hyped scene at the moment. Why do I write all this? Because here’s another band from Reykjavik, Iceland, called Zakaz. The name is rather Polish sounding haha, but their debut release is called “Myrkur og dauði”, released through Schattenkult Produktionen. This is new band and I doubt if any of the members – who all hide behind weird names I, II, III and IV ha! – were or still are also involved in another projects. It doesn’t matter. What does though is that I really liked this album a lot!
But before you will listen to “Myrkur og dauði” try not to think of all these popular, hyped Icelandic bands like Svartidaudi or Misþyrming, because musically Zakaz has very little in common with them. I was actually quite surprised, when I was listening to “Myrkur og dauði” for the first time, because I didn’t expect to hear direction, in which the music at some point has progressed. As it turned out, the whole 42 minutes hide very varied, uncommon but highly enjoyable black metal. Yeah, it’s black metal and the beginning of the album is basically a straight to the point thing, with raw, quite fast and aggressive playing. But “Gröfin” is far from the common means of this style and at some point also surprise, with clean vocals or slower, doomy part somewhere near the end of this track. All in all, it’s great and well arranged song. Such harsh and vicious, cold sounding black metal is present also in other songs like “Dauði”, but it never sounds dull and primitive and some riffs are quite uncommon for this style of music. But at some point Zakaz takes also a surprising turn into doomy black metal! Slow pace, great harmonious guitar work, very melancholic, sorrowful atmosphere – this is what you will find in many parts of “Myrkur og dauði”.
I guess “Nótt” is the first really surprising song here. It’s an instrumental piece, but very melodic and sort of pleasantly sounding, so it’s something way different to “Gröfin” for example. Also “Endurfæðing” really captures my attention – I have to say that with such songs Zakaz reminds me Ulver from their old, demo days. “Upplifun” is truly a standout song, oh man, it sounds simply fantastic with that majestic, epic, almost bombastic sound, which then abruptly is changed for a vicious, angry fast black metal. Then we have “Hamur”, which sometimes reminds me some 90’s melodic black metal bands from Sweden, so maybe this is why I really fuckin like this song a lot. But basically every song brings something different, Zakaz music is never one dimensional, so even within one track you can expect to hear tempo changes, different variations on black metal and so on. One thing is certain – the atmosphere is truly cold and melancholic. I suppose that such sounds really capture the essence of Icelandic landscapes, which you can see on the photographs that are in the booklet. Yeah, it all fits perfectly. And for “Myrkur og dauði” is one of the best debuts of this year, speaking of black metal.
Standout tracks: “Hamur”, “Gröfin”, “Upplifun”
Final rate: 85/100