From Iceland — Zhrine At the Altar

Zhrine At the Altar

Published October 13, 2023

Zhrine At the Altar
Photo by
Hafsteinn Ársælsson

Reviving the Hellirinn Sanctuary

Since 2014, the name Zhrine has resonated like an eerie echo – mostly because of the challenge in pronouncing the name of the band, formerly spelled Shrine and dubbed Gone Postal in its very early stages. With the band scheduled to play at Hellirinn Metal Fest #3, presented by Eistnaflug and ReykjaDoom, I met up with vocalist and guitarist Tobbi in a recording studio, ready to retrace Zhrine’s path.

The Abyss of Perfection

In addition to Tobbi, the band consists of Nökkvi on guitar, Ævar on bass and Tumi on drums. Zhrine evolved from its death metal roots into a fusion of black and death metal with their debut album Unortheta, a meticulously arranged masterpiece. “Nökkvi and I do the main writing, the rest is about putting it together and making it sparkle. The first album took a long time to make, kind of like this upcoming one.”

“We are going to play a lot of the new material at Hellirinn. When we release the new album, it will be old news already.”

With the release of Unortheta, it was clear that they shifted away from what Tobbi calls conventional “CHUGGA CHUGGA” riffs, exploring more atmospheric and melodic sounds. Zhrine’s upcoming album is a flowing continuation of their debut, with steady emotional charge and heroic aspirations. “The difference between the albums is that we did a lot of demoing and listening to decide where it was boring and what we needed to change,” Tobbi explains. This method proved both a blessing and a curse. In this search for perfection, the pace of creation has roughly been one song per year — acknowledging that it’s impossible to control everything.

Hellirinn Metal Fest: A Nostalgic Reunion

When Tobbi and the rest of the members were growing up into the scene, Hellirinn was their sanctuary to gather and play. “We weren’t old enough to go to clubs back then,” he points out. Unfortunately, as they did come of age, Hellirinn turned quiet and pretty much died down. “I think it’s a great effort from the organisers of the Hellirinn Metal Fest to have a comeback of this venue and important institution.” The event is in the inclusive spirit of all-ages gigs and provides a platform for emerging talent. “We are going to play a lot of the new material at Hellirinn. When we release the new album, it will be old news already,” laughs Tobbi.

“We play very seldomly, especially since COVID hit. This is the first time we’ll play after we started the new recording process,” explains Tobbi, highlighting another reason not to miss the night.

Zhrine plays alongside bands Ultramagnus, Nyrst, Alchemia, Blóðmór and Dauðyflin at Hellirinn Metal Fest #3, October 14 at Hólmaslóð 2. See you there or see you in hell!

Follow Zhrine on Instagram at @zhrineofficial and stay tuned for their upcoming album release.

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