I’m pretty much a sucker for black metal in all its forms so it seemed a no-brainer to plumb for this first full-length from Icelandic band Óreiða. Two demos and a split since 2016 and the band have put together four extended would-be epic tracks which provide just enough to cobble together a full-length and hopefully use the space to develop something a little more interesting than you can with the odd track. There’s some interesting stuff going on here – shrill, layered acoustics that help to weaving a spell that conjures up bleak and barren landscapes. Repetitive riffs to drag you down into a trance-induced icy void rendered even starker by the lack of any vocals to latch onto. Lingering at the edges of Óreiða’s tapestry lie hints of subtle details twists and turns that those willing to submerse themselves will no doubt cite as the crucial part of the mix. The dancing colour that distracts from the gravitational pull of this faceless band’s central pillar of sound.
Yes, there is something here in all that. But as given as I am to ethereal black metal repetition and ephemeral melody it is hard to get away from the fact that there are some nine minute tracks here wrapped around just one or two riffs. That some of those riffs are unforgivingly simple and that the subtle hints planted on the edges of your aural spectrum and oh so very subtle indeed. If this was another demo or extended play I could imagine the intrigue getting the better of me and suggesting that, given room to develop in a more spacious setting, a longer release could unleash some magic. And, yes, there is undoubtedly magic and some very interesting use of intertwined acoustic instrument, tremolo and, I’m assuming, keyboards. But when third track Daudi arrives, with some admittedly clever arrangements, it’s the point you’d quite like things to expand into marginally less subtle and less repetitive directions and it fails to strike out.
There is plenty to like here and I dare say Óreiða would reward a bit of effort, perhaps from someone whose musical knowledge means they can better appreciate the faint musical dabbling involved in creating this. Call me an unbeliever. But, for me, repeated listens failed to unravel this beyond the mild irritation that I wanted more from this obviously talented outfit and was having to work too hard to find something I wasn’t even quite sure was there in the first place.
(6/10 Reverend Darkstanley)