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Utbyrd – Varskrik Award winner

by Daphne Minks Daly at 27 January 2021, 7:59 PM

Conceiving of their own unusual blend of symphonic black metal, UTBYRD has superseded expectation. Hailing from Bodø, Norway, and formed in 2012, they are a captivating and intriguing hybrid of musical forces. Although the group is categorized as black metal, their sound can't be indexed by just one genre.

Initially released in 2017, Petrichor Records takes on UTBYRD's debut album, “Varskrik. Translated into English as 'Warning,' the album is an endeavor that would ultimately take three years to finish. With members of hard-hitting bands such as GRAVSANG and ISKALD, along with support from Clemens Wijers of CARACH ANGREN, UTBYRD has created a lyrical and orchestral masterpiece for the ages. This partnership of metal minds has proven itself proficient in producing full-spectrum powerhouse performances.

The opening track, “Karsten og Draugen, instantly establishes the record's beautifully dark essence. Immediately, the listener is aware of the outstanding production value of this album. UTBYRD quickly showcases their ability to create a multi-dimensional, atmospheric ambiance. Masters of the black metal craft, this band's intriguing collaboration of musical mediums is executed absolutely impeccably. “Karsten og Draugen” is a twelve-min dirge that never becomes numbing nor boring. With multiple melodic layers of instrumentation, the song only becomes more interesting as time goes on.

“Dauing” is a complex, arduous, and choppy nod to thrash metal with a unique stop-and-go brilliance. Ferocious and otherworldly, the vocals are as unexpected as ominous. While never losing its sinister undertones, the song somehow creates a feeling of befalling a harmonious staircase most deliberately and gracefully. The ensemble of unrelenting layers of background vocals brings images of destruction, dissolution, and iniquity to mind.

“Sjøormen, the third song, is an electrifying theatrical climb from the bottom of a frosted mountain. The woodwind instruments are perfection and only add to the haunting nature of this track. Throughout the song, the listener is seemingly hunted by a shadowy specter of evil with diabolical plans. A perfectly placed river of sadness and hatred flows down the mountain, creating intense twists, turns, and foreshadows along the way. The story is told through power-metal-esque orchestration of epic proportion.

The intriguing intro of “Skogen” captivates the imagination and slides flawlessly into a solid rhythm. The song is elegant while still maintaining its harsh, devilishly dark, black metal origins. Amazingly well laid-out, “Skogen's use of woodwinds and strings is nothing short of pain-soothing, while the double bass drum keeps the momentum going throughout.

For this reviewer, “Varskrik's highlight track is “Utbyrd, which shares its name with the band. This masterwork's classical elements combined with a profoundly established heart of black metal is sure to make “Utbyrd” a genre standard. From the unbelievable orchestral arrangements to the cinematic composition, every nuance of the song is done well.

“Varskrik” is an extraordinary record with impeccable musicianship that effortlessly blends viciously raucous metal with dreamlike melodies creating a delectably pleasurable experience. A much-appreciated and disturbing emotional release, “Varskrik” leaves the listener with a sense of satisfaction after having endured a harrowing experience, and is a symphonic black metal album that's about as close to perfect as possible.

Songwriting:  10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Karsten og Draugen
2. Dauing
3. Sjøormen
4. Deildegasten
5. Skogen
6. Utbyrd
7. Blikkstille Vann
Nohr – Vocals
Gast – Bass
Skarv – Guitar
Gjenganger – Guitar
Tykje – Drums
Record Label: Petrichor Records


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