Originally released independently in a limited capacity, ‘Varskrik’, the debut release from Norwegian Symphonic Black Metal outfit Utbyrd, is now set for a physical launch via Petrichor, something that a work of this nature deserves.
Utbyrd – Varskrik (Petrichor)
Release Date: 12 March 2021
Words: Jools Green
‘Varskrik’ took the best part of three years to create. The aim was to forge their own unique blend of Black Metal with symphonic influences. How unique, it is hard to say, as Symphonic Black Metal is a popular and well-travelled path, but what it definitely is, is dynamic, atmospheric and epic and an offering of extremely well composed Symphonic Black Metal that comes across as both emotively powerful and exhilarating.
It is certainly more unique than most comparable offerings in the genre.
‘Varskrik’ is a seven-track offering, spanning forty-seven minutes. All the lyrics are in Norwegian and that always adds an edge for me – I do not need to know the words, I just want to experience the atmosphere, the vitriolic aggression, emotion and the sheer power that oozes from every utterance and each note, and this delivers those elements to me by the bucket load.
The Black Metal side has that classic Norwegian delivery, but there are some pretty adventurous twists on classic riffs. Vocally it is magnificently caustic but you do get some clean elements, as found on the marathon opener the twelve minute ‘Karsten og Draugen’.
The symphonic side also pushes the boundaries of what you might expect from the genre, with some equally adventurous twists on the standard theme. So no surprises to hear that Clemens Wijers of the hugely influential Dutch Symphonic Black Metal band Carach Angren was brought on board to handle the whole of that side of the sound.
Brutal and epic stamina
It is a hard album to pinpoint a favourite track. If you like one track, you will like the whole album. I am drawn to album opener, the monstrous ‘Karsten og Draugen’ for its sheer brutal and epic stamina. Twelve minutes is no mean feat, but the shorter tracks are no less excellent, such as the shortest piece ‘Dauing’, still spanning five minutes, and what it lacks in duration it makes up for in punch and drive.
‘Sjøormen’ is cleverly disparate and dynamic, at times following the given symphonic black formula, and others going off on an adventurous tangent.
‘Deildegasten’, at its most frantic, is breathtakingly dynamic and at its calmest, emotively tortuous, weaving a complex and convoluted path as it progresses and overall an impressive listen.
‘Skogen’ has a very classic Symphonic Black Metal quality, but it is a superb listen.
‘Utbyrd’ is definitely an off the wall adventurous piece, often frantic with off kilter piano and an added female operatic element for extra drama, dynamics and atmosphere. What I felt also were some distant cleans masked behind the symphonics, but I can not be sure. Whatever it is, it cleverly draws you in and if I had to choose a favourite track this would be it. The sheer depth of layering is breath-taking.
Closing track ‘Blikkstille vann’ maintains the high standard to the very end. It is varied and convoluted, occasionally wistful and reflective, but mostly brutal and addictively engaging and always full of those surprises which lurk around every corner.
‘Varskrik’ will be available as a deluxe edition CD with slipcase, White/Blue-Green Swirl vinyl, Swamp Green vinyl, or Black vinyl as a 180 grams audiophile vinyl with download card or as a cassette.
If you like Symphonic Black Metal, particularly Carach Angren, (old) Enslaved, (old) Satyricon and Emperor, you will certainly enjoy ‘Varskrik’.
It is an utterly fascinating and engaging listen.