Author: Jan Jakobsen
Label: Season of Mist
Genre: Black/Death Metal
Born from the ashes of brutal death metal band Gone Postal, rises Zhrine as a dissonant and highly experimental death metal phoenix. With a member from Svartidauði and ex-member of Naðra you can probably tell what they’re going to sound like if you’re somewhat familiar with the Icelandic black metal scene that’s been growing and become famous in the underground metal scene in the last few years. What Zhrine brings to the table is a highly technical, dissonant and experimental sound that’s unlike most others. I reviewed Devouring Star early last year and gave them a fairly favorable review and Zhrine seems to have added a more death metal edge to the sonic explosion, but there certainly are elements that they both share.
One of the many things that pleases me with this record is the fact that Zhrine has managed to shed most of the brutal death elements that I feared may sneak itself onto the album considering Gone Postal was a pretty run-of-the-mill band with a lot of elements that I have a strong dislike for. Gone are the silly breakdowns and the mindless chugging, in comes genuinely interesting riffs and drumming that oozes of technicality and blast beats that hit just the spot. Nökkvi G. Gylfason from Svartidauði handles the vocals and even though he’s not primarily a vocalist, his deep growls still sound menacing throughout the entire album. I did mention Zhrine had shed most of their brutal death influence, but there are still certain riffs placed here and there that would fit well on a modern Suffocation album and there’s one incredibly heavy breakdown on the track The Syringe Dance, but it fits in well and does not feel forced or overdone in any way.
The songs do not overstay their welcome either with most tracks landing in at about the five-minute mark with plenty of room for ambient landscapes to grow forth and add an extra layer of atmosphere. The atmosphere of the album definitely has more of a black metal feel, but the music itself is well within the death metal realm. Some might even say this is a black/death album, but there is little to none black metal influence on the songwriting itself. The entire feel of the album though is different which is both odd and surprisingly good. There are tracks like World where the band slowly builds up the music to reach a climax and it works like a charm.
Overall, there isn’t much to put my finger on here. It ticks most of my boxes in terms of what I want from an experimental death metal band. The dissonance is both creepy and heavy, the drumming as mentioned is punishing, the vocals shift from being deep growls to tormented shrieks at some passages. The total run time of the album is 40 minutes which may seem a bit short, but after a play-through of this monster of an album you might want a breather.
- Jan Jakobsen