Full Album Stream: Katla – “Móðurástin”

If hook-laden, melodic metal is your thing, then Katla are your new favorite band. On new album Móðurástin, out October 27 through Prophecy Productions, ex-Sólstafir drummer/visual artist Guðmundur Óli Pálmason and  Einar Thorberg Guðmundsson (Fortíð, Potentiam) combine forces for something that is dark, atmospheric, sometimes crushingly heavy and sometimes almost pop-sounding in its construction.

Guðmundsson provided Decibel with a lengthy explanation of Katla and Móðurástin. Read his description while you listen to the album now.

Móðurástin, or (the) Mother’s Love might be a strange title for a metal album, but what is stronger than a mother’s love? Nothing. Not hate, not lust, not greed. Nothing. Móðurástin is a culmination of all that Einar and I have done before in various bands. We were very conscious though of giving Katla its own sound and style, experimenting with new things like retro 80’s synths and even edm/idm soundscapes (largely thanks to our producer Halldór Á. Björnsson of epic electro duo Legend) while still drawing from the atmospheric metal/rock foundations we have built over the last two decades. Going back to our black metalish roots for a couple of songs was something that came to us naturally while still maintaining a catchy rock ‘n’ roll feeling with an overall doomy atmosphere. We feel we’ve succeeded in giving each song its own character whilst at the same time maintaining an overall inter-connectivity. Although being a multi-instrumentalist, Einar mainly composes on a guitar, with me throwing in a few ideas, but even so we tried not to have the music too guitar riff-driven, not letting one instrument taking over. Using (mostly) clean vocals instead of the typical metal screams adds another layer of melancholy to the music. Katla is all about creating an atmosphere rather than just blunt metal force. Lyrically the album touches on a few subject that somehow all seem to connect. The mind’s own abyss, the longing for summer during the dead of winter and its eventual return in spring, and mostly the tough fight for survival far up here in the frozen north. But the individual’s life doesn’t always prevail. Hreggur tells the tale of the grim end sailors often met in the rough north Atlantic ocean around Iceland, and unfortunately still occasionally do. The title track itself, “Móðurástin” (Mother’s love) undoubtedly tells the most morbid story of them all. It deals with the archaic Icelandic transgression of mothers leaving their newborn children out in the unforgiving wilderness, to succumb to the elements. A gruesome way to go for a vulnerable small being.

“But these murders weren’t committed out of hate, on the contrary. For example, women having children out of wedlock were often forced to “carry the child out” or risk the penalty, and in the story of outlaws Fjalla Eyvindur and Halla, a mother, after singing her child the most beautiful lullaby, throws the toddler into a waterfall rather than having it fall into enemy hands. The act of filicide must therefore evoke a mixture of the strongest feelings a human being can possibly experience. There is no need for hate when you have that kind of love. We’re very proud of the fact that we were able to keep a lot of aspects of the production in the family so to speak. We worked again with engineer/production team of Leigh Lawson and Halldór Á. Björnsson, whom had previously worked with us on our Ferðalok 7″EP. The album also features guest vocal performances by Einar’s sister Sylvía Guðmundsdóttir who takes on the role of the estranged mother and my great grandmother Laugheiður Jónsson. Her part was recorded in 1934 and I’m not sure she saw this coming. Amazingly, her song ‘Hvað Syngur Litli Fuglinn (What Sings the Little Bird)’ ties in perfectly with the title track where the mother refers to her child as her singing bird.

“Furthermore, all the artwork was done by the band itself, with the handwriting being Einar’s very own and the layout and photography was done by me. I draw inspiration for my photography and lyrics pretty much from the same source, so it all comes full circle and ties perfectly together in the end.”

Purchase the album here.