Katla – Móðurástin (Prophecy)

Friday, 6th October 2017
Rating: 7/10

Iceland may be too small and niche of a country to have a full-metal breakout. And that’s okay. It’s not like the scene could handle a flurry of far-reaching, avant-garde, if not wholly indigenous bands. That’s what you’ll get from Iceland — no two bands are alike, even if there’s quite a bit of band member cross-pollination, which brings us to Katla. Featuring ex-Sólstafir drummer and visual artist Guðmundur Óli Pálmason and singer/multi-instrumentalist Einar Thorberg Guðmundsson (Fortíð, Potentiam), the band, like their peers, is off the grid, somewhere out in icy, atmospheric space, as so displayed on their Móðurástin debut.

There is an inkling, albeit a minor one, to point Katla in the same direction as Sólstafir. Somewhat similar approaches bind the two together: Peddling instrumentation, unrefined song structures and clean vocals sung in their native tongue. The songs, as you would expect, can meander a bit (“Kul” would be a prime example), which diminishes the urgency of the album as a whole. While there are sharp cuts and angles tossed around on opener “Aska” and on the title track, a number that has the most teeth of the lot, Katla appear to be a band more interested in watching the world go by than actively participating in it.

Katla is certainly more difficult to digest than say, Kontinuum or even the aforementioned Potentiam (check out their 2006 Years in the Shadows compilation — it’s fantastic). The songs on Móðurástin don’t necessary move or pulsate, they just sit above the open, glacial water, waiting for someone to take a dip. Just don’t hold your breath on coming away with anything of major substance.

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