That opening rumble is a rocket blasting off into pure, uncut space rock, held in orbit by a low-end that’s death-metal-heavy by Sigur Rós standards. When the bass drops out of album opener “Brennisteinn” (which fittingly translates to “Brimstone”) we’re left floating in that familiar fragment of the galaxy inhabited pretty much exclusively by Sigur Rós, but the echoes of that initial darkness remain throughout Kveikur, the group’s seventh album, and their first without keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson. His departure may well be responsible for the menacing presence haunting Kveikur, but if so the effect seems more pronounced in the emotions that went into the album’s creation than any specific musical change, unless Sveinsson’s veto was previously keeping the band from playing with the percussive industrial hiss on the title track or (finally!) taking cues from Houston hip-hop and screwing Jónsi Birgisson’s vocals to great effect in “Yfirborð.” The menacing rumbling here is probably not enough to convert metalheads to the pleasures of bowed guitar, toy pianos, and Birgisson cooing made-up words in angelic castrato, but longtime fans will be glad as hell to discover previously uncharted territories of Hopelandia meriting further exploration.
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