I was lucky enough to review Dynfari’s 2012 album “Sem Skuggin”, a bleak and interesting atmospheric metal album. With a further album “Vegferđ Tímans” (2015) in between times, “The Four Doors in the Mind” looks at human existence and the mind’s ability to cope with pain.
My recollection of “Sem Skuggin” was that this is not music to be pigeon-holed. So it is here. A calming introduction in which we are introduced with the spoken word to the first “door” is overtaken by violence and harsh expression. This is “First Door Sleep” but sleep, which is disturbed abruptly. If we’re talking about pain, it’s perhaps appropriate to bring in Katatonia, and the forceful introduction of “Sorgarefni Segi Eg Pér” does that. But it turns quickly to uncompromising but epic black metal, slowing down into dark and expressive tones. This post-rock melody is accompanied by Icelandic growlings. The track ends in its repetitive and melancholy way before we are led in sinister and dramatic fashion to the “Second Door Forgetting”. “Sorg” (Sorrow) follows. Acoustic gentleness is accompanied by reflective thoughts in Icelandic. “Third Door Madness” is next. Another gentle acoustic tune gives way a more powerful and epic Katatonian sound and then a heartwarming post rock ring. Another angst-ridden acoustic track “Bikarinn” follows, and then comes “Fourth Door Death”. Fourteen minutes long, it starts in quiet and sinister fashion. “Nothing can hurt us after death, or so we have been told”, utters the threatening voice. Quiet post metal with a steady drum patter takes us slowly forward. The tension and momentum build up in the typical style of the genre. It slows down, and there is a burst of power. “Fourth Door Death” ebbs and flows, and provides a polished end to this varied album.
This is an album of transforming shapes and moods. I don’t think I got the best out of it because although each “Door” is introduced in English, much of this is in Icelandic, which I don’t speak. Musically I appreciated the subtleties of sound and the juxtaposition of beauty and violence, but much as I could see that Dynfari were taking us through the four doors, it is deep and I struggled to get the continuity within the music, and between it and the theme of “The Four Doors in the Mind”.
(7/10 Andrew Doherty)