Seidr, a band that consists of members of Panopticon, Wheels Within Wheels, Vit and Below. The album is titled Ginnungagap, which, instead of trying to explain here, I will allow you to look up using whatever means you find necessary. Suffice to say it is an important concept in Norse mythology, and a very fitting title for this album.
First and foremost, Ginnungagap is a metal record. I'm not going to bother going into sub-genres on this one, because while doom may be at the root, the album is just so much more than that. There are so many different sounds and textures at work here; to call it anything more specific than a metal record would be misrepresenting what the record is all about anyway. And just the same, to say that this record is about atmosphere is just not doing it any justice.
There are riffs a-plenty, and the atmosphere is among the best that I've heard this year, but to me, this record is all about contrast. The heavy, monolithic riffs and spacey, droning, almost psychedelic atmospheres converge to create what one might imagine as the vast, seemingly boundless expanse of the universe in recorded form. Bands have done this before (they've attempted to, at least) but given Seidr's more-than-impressive sonic palette, it sounds very unique here. The sound is surrounding, consuming, and not surprisingly, quite humbling; it reminds us how limited, small, and insignificant we are - as individuals, and together as a planet's inhabitants. Step out and gaze into the night sky with this album playing and it's difficult to feel anything other than quite alone. Yet, somehow, not without purpose - because despite our insignificance, we are still quite powerful in our creativity.
Seidr have painted a picture that is at once harrowing and indescribably beautiful. And in doing so, they have created the album of the year, without question.
Ginnungagap is of course a double album, nearly 90 minutes in length. The 2xCD can be purchased from the fine, fine folks at Bindrune Recordings for the paltry sum of $12 plus shipping.