Iceland. When I think of Iceland, I think of beautiful landscapes full of majestic waterfalls, glaciers, volcanoes, lava, mountains, lush black sand beaches as well as a rich history dating back to Viking times. Furthermore, Iceland is becoming a Mecca for rock and extreme metal acts alike. With a population of roughly 350,000 inhabitants, the amount of quality music arising from this Nordic country is truly astounding. With bands like Solstafir, Zhrine, Audn, Devine Defilement, Beneath and many more, Ophidian I, has joined the ranks of the Icelandic elites.
With the release of their debut full length titled Desolate, released on Season of Mist Records, Ophidian I have launched themselves into the upper echelon of technical Death Metal supremacy. I can certainly promise that despite its title, Desolate is anything but desolate. This album is packed full of top-notch musicianship, brilliant harmonies as well as influence from top tier tech death bands. Desolate is a relentless assault on the brain in order to just keep up with what these guys are doing.
Usually, when I think of an Icelandic extreme metal band, I think of a lot of dark themes emanating from the music accompanied by an even darker atmosphere, however with Desolate, that is not the case. Much of this album is very upbeat and aesthetically pleasing, very much in the vein of the mighty Decrepit Birth and Fallujah. The riffing is highly skilled; spiraling leads placed over already complexed, notey guitar riffs. This combination does create quite a bright atmosphere. Also, the speed of this album at this level of technicality is truly impressive to me. Drummer Ragnar Sverrisson is a true force to be reckoned with behind the drum kit and I highly encourage you to check out his drum playthrough videos, you will not be sorry you did. Pushing 270bpm with these complexed arrangements definitely engages the listener.
My favorite track on this album would have to be Dominion Eyes. This track starts out with a very brooding tone and then goes cut-throat with speed and intensity reminiscent of Spawn of Possession but about 2/3’s of the way through it breaks down into a groove that just makes you want to get in gym, the pit or do some quality windmilling. I absolutely love when this band grooves and breaks parts down, these parts tend to really stick out for me because of the speed and technicality that surround them.
In conclusion, Ophidian I seems like a band that can do it all. On future releases it will be interesting to see if they include more of these groove parts and slow down for a song or too just for textures sake. If you’re a fan of quality technical death metal and are captivated by brilliant musicianship as I am, Desolate will surely not disappoint and was quite the pleasant surprise for me. I am sure we will see these guys on some fests in 2022!
Release Date: July 16, 2021
Label: Season of Mist
1. Diamonds (4:35)
2. Spiral To Oblivion (3:31)
3. Storm Aglow (4:12)
4. Unfurling The Crescent Moon (2:53)
5. Sequential Descent (4:31)
6. Captive Infinity (3:43)
7. Enslaved In A Desolate Swarm (4:05)
8. Dominion Eyes (3:13)
9. Jupiter (4:01)
10. Wither On The Vine (4:07)
Ragnar Sverrisson – Drums
Daníel Máni Konráðsson – Guitar
Simon Thorolfsson – Guitar
Þórður Hermannsson – Bass
John Olgeirsson – Vocals