Icelandic black metal outfit, Carpe Noctem deliver their second long player, “Vitrun” five years on from debut release “In Terra Profugus”. Their homeland has proved to be a haven for extreme metal of the highest quality and this disc finds the band continuing to uphold this reputation and, indeed their own growing legacy. Spread over six, mainly lengthy tracks sung in their native tongue, “Vitrun” is likely to be a brutal listen.

“Söngurinn Sem Ómar Á Milli Stjarnanna” opens with a very lo-fi black metal churn. Deep, growled vocals create an aura of bleakness with a pace that swings from a doom grind to a sonic maelstrom. Rolling bass drums create an undercurrent of simmering chaos as they manage to build a heightened sense of drama. The quality that immediately stands out is the iciness and apocalyptic, nightmarish soundscape the band are trying to achieve. They push the boundaries into mildly progressive territory on “Upplausn” with a slightly Opeth “Blackwater Park” grandiosity before a shove down into a torrent of raw chaos. The rhythm is taught with a bass that is propulsive and drives a vocal vehemence that is, at times completely compelling. Dissonance combines with melancholy and melody on “Og Hofiõ Fyltist Af Reyk”. There’s a doom tinge to it with mystical auras as a gritty riff unfolds over rumbling percussion. They twist it back into a tumultuous churn briefly before steering into a primal thump backdropped with echoed wails; a simmering rage constantly bubbles under the surface. Structurally, these tracks follow a common path with creepy echoes hanging in the background. The band show craftsmanship in the way they build layers, keeping the unrestrained aggression in check as required. A snapped, militaristic beat gives the virulent “Hér Hvílir Bölvun” serious strength as punchy riffs drag the listener into a savage vortex.

The only relatively brief track is instrumental “Úr Beinum Og Brjóski” with its distinct chill and proves to be an effective interlude before closer “Sá Sem Slítur Vængi Flugunnar Hefur Náõ Hugljómun”, which also happens to be the album’s longest song at around 11 minutes. The abrasive riff is backed with ever building drums creating a twisted sound accompanied by a throaty, growled bellow leaving a sense of chilling bleakness.

Carpe Noctem have crafted a highly emotive work in “Vitrun”. With a sound completely reflective of the land from which they come, it’s an engaging album that rewards repeated listens.

(7/10 Johnny Zed)