There’s only one track for this issue’s track by track: Martröð’s “Draumleysa,” from their upcoming EP ‘Transmutation of Wounds’. Martröð is a black metal supergroup featuring members of Icelandic black metal bands Wormlust and Misþyrming. If you’ve never heard black metal before, this track would definitely not be a bad place to start. It’s raw. It’s haunting. It’s nightmarish. But it’s beautiful. To get deeper into Martröð—Icelandic for “nightmare”—we asked member Hafsteinn Viðar to tell us about “Draumleysa” in his own words.
There are moments in life when events reserved for fiction decide to dress themselves up in a skin suit and crawl into reality. For us, that hideous creature was assembling what we considered to be the perfect band of musicians.
However, after the lineup had been established, then came the “How the fuck are we going to do this?” stage. We didn’t want this project to sound like a mess of our own styles, we didn’t want someone to be like, “Oh, this is a Wormlust riff and there’s the Skáphe over-effected vacuum cleaner riff.” We aimed to keep Martröð its own beast. Then began the seemingly endless experiments, with not only the boundaries of songwriting, but with us also trying to see how far we could wander astray from expectations. For a while, we even tried having outside musicians from other bands take our riffs and try to structure something new. That was quickly abandoned, although for those five minutes, we were I guess toying with the idea of Martröð being more of a Dada-esque collective of musicians than the old band dynamic. Essentially a million theoreticals were floating around before we just put a lid on it, knuckled down and started writing. We wrote hours of material ranging from violently awful to, finally, goddamn wonderful. From the latter, “Draumleysa,” our first illegitimate child, came to be.
This child survived several stages of growth: oblique cards, musical gurus, and the now trademarked deep overthinking we do, a practice which remained intact. In any case, we started with something aggressive and ended with something hypnotic, the marriage of heaven and hell in way. The riffs, however, underwent the knife several times. The opening riff to the song was initially a straightforward 4/4 post-punk thing, but ended up into whatever the fuck it is now. We pulled the middle section from a jangly mess of a song that had been written for a project that never went anywhere. We pitch shifted things, we added ridiculous amounts of guitar layers, we made a big fucking mess. It came together somehow, by accident or cunning; we rolled this vehicle down a mountain and ended up in a parking spot by the front door without injury. I don’t know how the audio engineer didn’t shoot himself in the head.
Accident or not, “Draumleysa” functions as a representation of things that we were experiencing. It wasn’t difficult to write, but it was definitely challenging to complete. It’s a dynamic song, going from one extreme to another, much like our personal lives and, as we would discover, the existence of this band. Collaborators went missing, health issues arose, personal struggles happened. The best and worst of times. We managed and now here we are.