Une Misère were completely unheard of before winning the Wacken Metal Battle back in their home country of Iceland. Their victory saw them play at Germany’s largest outdoor metal festival before they returned home to wow crowds at Eistnaflug – it was this show that saw them invited to perform at 2018’s edition of Roadburn, an honour for a band still considered to be in their infancy. Their performances across the weekend were breath taking, the sheer force making it feel like all of the air was being forcibly pushed from the room, providing one of the heaviest spectacles to grace the Dutch festival for some time. With this in mind, the idea of the six piece being picked up by a label as big as Nuclear Blast for their debut album is incredibly exciting, especially considering the band cite the likes of Amenra, Trap Them and Full of Hell as influences.
‘Sermon’ certainly delivers a heavy blow on first listen, the first half of the record is a maelstrom of meaty riffs, violent percussion and Jón Már Ásbjörnsson’s vocals tear through the speakers in a merciless rage that would put the likes of Kevin Baker (All Pigs Must Die) to shame. It checks all of the boxes you’d want from a hardcore band – it’s heavy, unrelenting and utterly bleak. It’s definitely lacking in melody, however, it’s something that can be gladly overlooked in favour of focusing just how tight the musicianship is.
Then around the halfway mark things begin to unravel rather rapidly. ‘Fallen Eyes’ starts off with some absolutely dire cleanly sung vocals before launching into a full frontal metalcore assault circa 2001. Sadly, ‘Sermon’ doesn’t recover and what follows is disappointingly lacklustre – it’s almost like you’re listening to a completely different band. The dubstep intro of ‘Beaten’ just smacks too hard of Enter Shikari to be forgivable. To have such promise and seemingly piss it up the wall for no good reason makes absolutely no sense – whether it’s the pressure of releasing a first album on such a mainstream label or that Une Misère have simply run out of creative steam, it seems they couldn’t quite live up to expectations. Let’s hope they find their way again if there’s a second album, so that their very obvious talent doesn’t go to waste.
(6/10 Angela Davey)