Nyrst are relatively new to the metal scene but are already causing quite a stir! The Icelandic outfit is about to release the debut album "ORSÖK" on the 24th April via Dark Essence Records. Considering their fast rise to fame, we thought it would be a great idea to have a chat with the band to try to understand what’s the fuss all about. Read on so that you can understand it too. You won’t regret it!
The band started off under the name of Skuggsjá and then changed it into Nyrst. Why the change? Why have you opted for the name Nyrst which translates (I believe) into North?
The change was because very early on as a band we had very different ideas of what this band set out to create and, when 2016 came around, we saw we were onto something very new when it came to writing. This led to the decision that it was time to basically rebrand the band and find a new image for us. The name Nyrst was fitting for the atmosphere of the music and it translates into northernmost.
Initially the band only had 3 members… now you’re 5 members. Today’s lineup consists of Snæbjörn on vocals, guitarists Eysteinn and Davíð, Egill on bass and Sveinbjörn on drums… why add two more members?
We only consisted of a guitarist, bassist and drummer, so the addition of a singer and a second guitarist was a logical choice for us to form a proper band.
Dark Essence suggests that Nyrst’ sound is for those who are also fans of Misþyrming, Sinmara, Almyrkvi, Auðn, Svartidauði, Mgla, Taake. Do you agree? What’s the common ground between these bands and Nyrst? Just the Black Metal genre or the intensity?
We agree that we probably have a very similar fanbase. That being said, these bands are all doing very different styles of extreme metal but all with the common goal to create intense and unique music and all do so with great success.
“With "ORSÖK" which means "northernmost" in Icelandic, Nyrst delivers a debut album filled with a soundscape that is incredibly cold, stark and barren, whilst the lyrics come straight from old horror literature and are laced with cosmic undertones”. What themes are approached in your lyrics? What inspires you?
Orsök means causation, repercussion or a consequence of an event and is related to the lyrical themes on the album. As for your question, the themes of the lyrics are misanthropia, cosmic horror and the barren wastelands of our country. Our main inspiration when writing is the harsh nature of Iceland.
What are your main musical influences?
We all come from very different backgrounds when it comes to extreme metal. Some of us are more into the very old school Bathory and Darkthrone while others were more into bands such as Emperor or Immortal or even death metal bands such as Pestilence or Morbid Angel to name a few. These are definitely the ones that influenced us the most.
Your vocals kinda remind me of Mayhem’s in “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas”, especially on the track “Nástirni”. Are they an influence somehow?
Not particularly, but the plan was always to have very diverse and intense vocals and Snæbjörn happens to have a wide taste in music and a very wide vocal range.
Atmospheric, mystical, raw, icy stark, “Orsök” is an album that represents Icelandic Black Metal in the purest form. Considering this is your debut, how would you describe Nyrst’s sound to those who haven’t heard about you before?
We deliver a soundscape that brings you into the icy, barren and stark wasteland of our home. Our album is a place to set your mind into these conditions and feel this symbiotic relationship of desolation, hopelessness but also immense calm.
The album includes 6 tracks… if it isn’t too much trouble, could you give a small explanation of what one should expect of each track?
01. Æðri verur - This song starts off by introducing you to your surroundings and eventually leading you to the full force Nyrst provides.
02. Orsök - Our most atmospheric song on the album, besides Athöfn which serves more as an intermission. This song is somewhat easy to listen to and more approachable. It includes very wide ranges of vocal, very melodic passages and overall a song that shows how wide our spectrum goes when it comes to writing.
03. Nástirni - This song is much more of a traditional song when it comes to black metal or extreme metal but carries a death metal groove.
04. Athöfn - This is an atmospheric intermission, an eye of the storm so to speak.
05. Hvísl hinna holdlausu - A long track that is more death metal based with black metal elements bringing you very diverse parts and vocals.
06. Turnar í fjarska - Turnar í fjarska is the end of the journey so to speak and ends with a epic climax.
Apart from playing Icelandic Black Metal, you also sing in your native tongue… most bands and people pay more attention to melody rather than the lyrics but don’t you “fear” your message might get lost if people don’t understand the language?
We count on the music to put the listener to the right place in mind. It’s okay if the person doesn’t understand a word of the lyrics if the music speaks itself with the vocals acting as an extra instrument.
The album “Orsök” pays homage to your grim and icy Icelandic heritage. How important is that heritage in your opinion? With today’s globalization, do you fear some traditions might get lost?
Definitely, but as of now our country speaks the only scandinavian language that is actually almost identical to old norse so we won’t lose that anytime soon. But that being said, it is true that a lot of traditions and old heritage is getting lost by time and sadly that is somewhat inevitable.
All of the promo photos include the members with a kind of black mask (maybe make-up) over their eyes and their eyes entirely blank… what is blinding you?
It’s simply black paint that has a ritualistic point.
Why have you opted for “Orsök” to be the title track? There is already a video for that track. It shows a white immensity surrounding you… Care to explain the concept behind it?
It was by far the most approachable song and shows exactly what the band can deliver.
As for the theme of the video, we wanted to create a visual aesthetic that manages to portray our barren and rugged country. We are all influenced by the nature of our country and a lot of that goes into the songs on the album.
“Nástirni” was premiered this week. How have fans been reacting to your tracks so far?
So far nothing but positive remarks and we are looking forward to bringing this to the fans live.
When one thinks of Iceland, one either envisions white because of all the snow or green because of all the fields… the cover artwork however has a kind of fire in the ground… what’s it referring to? What’s its connection to the album?
This small island we happen to live on is right on top of two tectonic plates colliding all the time. This makes the island volcanic and we can get eruptions such as the one at Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 that disrupted all flights in Europe and had a massive impact on the countryside and farmers. This is a force to be reckoned with and makes the average person incredibly small and it is always something that can come up and destroy whole towns within hours. The fire in the ground is our homage to that fact.
Your mystic and haunting stage performances have granted you respect as a live band… are there any plans for more live presentations, after this quarantine and virus problems we are all facing?
Yes definitely, we have some gigs lined up late this summer but judging by this virus we won’t be doing much until 2021.
How much impact do you think this virus will have on Nyrst’s “life”? How is it affecting you right now? Are you “scared”?
It’s affecting us greatly. Our release is coming soon and we had a gig lined up supporting Cattle Decapitation which had to be cancelled. Same goes for all festivals this summer. So far, the government is doing a pretty good job containing it here so most people are taking this rather well.
The band recently signed a deal with Dark Essence Records. What do you expect of it? Have you received offers from other labels?
We had our eye on this label for a while due to its formidable roster and reputation. We had already heard they are very honourable and good people so we expect nothing but good things from them and, so far, they are doing a great job. Yes, we have received other offers which we declined.
What’s your opinion about the other bands on the label’s roster? Are you familiar with their sound?
Our favourite label mates at the moment are definitely Dwaal whom we met at our recent gig in Norway.
Yes, we are and definitely had a part in our decision to go along with Dark Essence.
From 1 to 100, how much impact does the label have on the success of a band/album?
It’s a collaborative business agreement that goes pretty even so I would say 50/50.
How’s the current Icelandic metal scene? Any bands one should pay attention to?
The scene is alive and well! I would recommend Nexion who recently signed at Avantgarde Music, Morpholith, a doom outift we share our vocalist with, World Narcosis is a black/hardcore band that is very respected here and, of course, Carpe Noctem is a band that pioneered the later wave black metal here back home.
What are Nyrst’s short-term goals? And long-term ones?
Short term goals are to get through this fucking virus and get on stage as soon as possible. Long term, keep doing music and getting opportunities to play for as many people as we can.
Do you have any last words to share with our readers? All the best for Nyrst! Stay safe! Keep on making great music!
Thank you to everyone who has supported us with our newest singles, bought merch during these hard times and make sure you keep your eyes open for our gigs coming up hopefully later this year and 2021!
Interview by Sónia Fonseca