Welcome to another weekend of booze and tunes. This week’s offering is a slight departure for my tenure in this column, in that we will be examining a split between two bands instead of an album by one. The more the merrier though, and I can hardly think of two bands I’d rather spend an evening talking about. Let’s get to it. The Metal: Sinmara and Misthyrming’s Split. The Booze: Karl Strauss Brewing Company’s Wreck Alley Imperial Stout.
The Metal: Sinmara and Misthyrming’s Split
Both Sinmara and Misthyrming belong to the thriving black metal scene in Reykjavik, Iceland. Those familiar with my writing know just how in love with this collective of artists I am; insular as it is, every band manages to operate in the framework they have created for themselves, yet still bring something uniquely their own to the table. Both Sinmara’s Aphotic Womb and Misthyrming’s Söngvar elds og óreiðu stand not only as some of the best Iceland has to offer, but as some of my favorite black metal albums from anywhere on the globe. So when I found out these two giants were going to be collaborating on a release, it was like Christmas come again. It’s safe to say that my faith in both of the bands remains as unwavering as it ever was. Sinmara’s contribution, “Ivory Stone” hits in a controlled and focused way that accentuates the atmosphere Iceland is known for; swirling, all-encompassing waves of sound that range from angry chaos to woeful mourning. By contrast, Misthyrming’s “Hof” is all aggression, a work of savage frenzy that feels at the brink of tearing itself apart at the seams at any minute. Put these two visions together and what you have is a perfect encapsulation of all the elements that make the Icelandic black metal scene the most interesting in the world to me. If you are somehow still not familiar with the Reykjavik scene, let these two songs be your primer and I promise you, you will be as hooked as I am.
The perfect thing to pair with something as dark as this split (and let’s be honest, most of the albums I listen to) is a good, strong, dark beer. This gave me a reason to revisit something I had not had in a while: an imperial stout from San Diego’s Karl Strauss Brewing Company. Brewed in a traditional style with cocoa nibs and coffee from local Bird Rock Roasting Company, Wreck Alley offers a balanced approach to a brew that can often be intimidating to some. Don’t let the 9% ABV fool you, this is a smooth drinking beer. The flavor is focused mainly on the coffee, but where most coffee stouts accentuate the bitter and roasted notes, there is a surprising acidity from the coffee bean still present in the finish of Wreck Alley, which is a welcome offset to the darker flavor tones of the cocoa and malt. A great drink to wind down after a long day.
Two great bands, one great beer; I can’t think of a better way to end a long week. Whether I’ve introduced you to something new or highlighted something you’ve already known you love, I hope that reading this has been a good experience for you. Until next we meet!
Cheers, and be good to each other,