Grafir – “Úr ofboði óværunnar” (2016)

A few weeks back Iceland’s metal cassette label Vanagandr posted to their Facebook page that they had some new tapes available. I quickly went to their website and secured three of the four from their catalog that I still don’t have (the fourth being out of stock), and the other day a padded envelope full of evil plastic treasures arrived. After waiting for a few sunny days to pass, I got just what I needed – a dark, gloomy, rainy afternoon, perfect for getting my black metal on. And I began with Grafir’s Úr ofboði óværunnar.

First things first. Grafir doesn’t play a standard style of black metal. There are plenty of punk and post-punk elements in their music, even the odd rockabilly vibe, making it hard to hang a specific genre tag on Úr ofboði óværunnar. But who needs a one word description when the music is this good? I sure as hell don’t.

The opener, “Vinur, þú skelfur,” comes at you like a hard rocking surf tune, picking up the pace as it progresses, eventually reaching a frenetic metal speed until the vocals kick in, bring us back to a sped up post-punk surf vibe. It’s a bit of a startling blend of styles in such a short (2:12) amount of time, but definitely left me wanting, even craving, more.

Then “Skriða” happens. “Skriða happens” may very well become my new catchphrase. It describes that moment when the earth’s crust suddenly fractures and out of the crack emerges a dark army of monsters and the undead hell-bent on the destruction of all mankind. It’s dark. It’s metal. It’s the blackest. Even Nigel Tufnel knows.

“Hraunbúi” begins a more doomy vein, reminding me a little of HAM until it goes full on viking metal about a third of the way through… and then the black creeps back in, all raspy like gargling with Jack Daniels and broken glass… but then… shifts to a more soaring NWOBHM style… and then back to black. It’s almost exhausting, and I’m not sure how these guys manage to pull it off, but they do.

Úr ofboði óværunnar is short. With three songs coming in at a total run time of less than 10 minutes, it’s over almost before it starts. But man, what a ride – I can’t think of another band that has pulled me through so many styles in such a short amount of time. I strongly encourage you to check this sucker out – you can listen to it free and buy the download online HERE, or you can get the tape from Vanagandr for just seven bucks HERE.