Somewhere deep inside the aching chest of Iceland, the earth shifts, and from its cracking plates discharge the tragic sounds of 5 scorched young men whose own existence drives them to creative madness. The product of a modern age; the sonic nature of UNE MISÈRE cannot be easily defined. With an inherently heavy nature, the band sits somewhere on a vast spectrum of blackened hardcore and aggressive metal. Making their full length debut this November 1st, 2019 on Nuclear Blast Records, UNE MISÈRE are seeking to perform their darkened “SERMON” for the world.
Beginning their journey just a few years ago in 2016, UNE MISÈRE is the culmination of familiar friendships, musical devotion, hardening tragedy, addiction, and the fusing of band mates with wildly different styles. The desire to escape the tragic and beautiful poison that is Iceland lit a tenacious fire which alongside relentless touring, led to the band’s victory in WACKEN’s 2017 Iceland Metal Battle, an offer to play ROADBURN Fest 2018, the experience of playing alongside SLAYER in their one and only Icelandic show in 2018, and from there a signing to Nuclear Blast Records.
To experience seeing the band live is something akin to sensory renewal. The young men themselves seem to fall into a shadowy trance as they sway, slam, scream, and completely transform the energy on stage. Using their songs to build up electricity and tension among the crowd, leaping off stage into a thrashing mass that is ready to consume them whole, their performance isn’t just a live concert, but a true display of musical artistry and emotion.
It was with this heightened level of emotional inspiration, and a desire to truly emanate some of the heaviest music on the planet, that the band then began efforts towards their debut, full length album: SERMON. The title SERMON represents notions that can be understood throughout every song on the album: strong minded lyrical themes, social concepts, and the struggle to find happiness in this existence that is clouded by inevitable death. Not a religious or preachy band by any means, UNE MISÈRE simply seek to have their voices and experiences echoed worldwide in an attempt to link a common suffering.
The album artwork created by Niklas Sundin (Dark Tranquility) is simply beautiful, displaying a woman in a realm of muted flowers and soothing tones amidst a blackness that represents the timeless, yet modern existence of UNE MISÈRE. “To me,” explains drummer Benjamín Bent Árnason, “she is lady death,” and amidst the lovely lady are hidden glitches; tiny details that meld her with the music itself. “[The Artwork] resonates as this beautiful, miserable thing” explains Guitarist Fannar Már Oddsson.
As for the music itself, the title track “SERMON” carries a heavy sound, and just as heavy a psychological weight. “The internal struggle that one has with oneself. If you’ve ever wanted to bury yourself, it’s about that battle within, but on quite a huge level – it brings that internal battle to a global scale. You would go to the end of the world – just to sink yourself” explains vocalist Jón Már Ásbjörnsson. The track “FAILURES” discusses a common thread amongst a couple members of the band: sobriety, or rather, the act of becoming sober. Ásbjörnsson recounts: “The time when I experienced actually getting drugs out of my system – this song is fully about those first three days. It’s quite hard to explain it, but for those who know what I’m talking about, what I went through, they will understand perfectly. To the person who has never gone through withdrawal, we hope they listen, enjoy the heaviness of it, and maybe gain some perspective.”
“For those who don’t connect with the lyrics, perhaps they will, musically. It’s also easier for young people to relate to other young people trying to be sober; it’s a more relatable level than big name celebrities, etc.” states bassist Þorsteinn Gunnar Friðriksson. For the track “DAMAGES,” not only did they create an astounding visual story to accompany an early demo of the song (to announce the band’s signing to Nuclear Blast in the form of a breathtaking music video), but “nothing compares to the emotion of DAMAGES” proclaims Friðriksson. “With DAMAGES it’s that build up,” Oddsson explains, “the tension that just keeps rising. The pressure builds and builds in your head.”
The writing process for SERMON began just after WACKEN METAL BATTLE 2017. One benefit to all members being isolated in Iceland is the consistency of the writing process. Someone comes up with a riff, they meet, discuss, sound it out, and the lyrics and music develop around it. Everyone is included, the entire process is shared, and the songs develop organically every time. Guitarist Gunnar Ingi Jones thinks their “best songs come when [they’re] all in the room together with the skeleton of a song; there’s the magic.”
Production and recording for “SERMON” took place over the course of about 3 weeks, and started at Árnason’s place. The guys then hit the studio with Sky Van Hoff and his team Marco Bayati & Marco Kollenz. “They helped us achieve that BIG sound that we wanted,” explains Árnason, “we wanted that stadium, way-too-loud-sound.” Van Hoff’s team also mixed the record and Svante Forsbäck took care of the mastering. “We’re also very grateful for Nuclear Blast helping us out the way they did,” thanks Jones.
The words “NO WOUND TOO DEEP” continually resurface in the UNE MISÈRE experience. They were once an impactful t-shirt design, turned into lyrics, and have now molded themselves into a representation of the band’s message as a whole. The band describes “it made it onto the album, but then it became a motto for ‘we will not be defeated by the qualms, the trials, the tribulations of modern life. We won’t be torn down by the mundane things that tend to drag you.’ It truly captures the spirit of the band.”
“It puts an emphasis on, no matter what you go through, you will grow from this.” says Oddsson. Jones says: “to me it’s very hopeful. It’s an important way of thinking about life. It’s something I think about every day: nothing can really completely break you.” In other words: it doesn’t matter how hard you get pummeled; just keep fighting.
Trekking across Europe this summer playing shows with LAMB OF GOD, ARCH ENEMY, DECAPITATED and ABORTED, the young men of UNE MISÈRE hope next to conquer the United States sometime next year. The time has come to finally leave the mesmerizing wastelands of Iceland and spread their heavy, gorgeous misery the world over. UNE MISÈRE is: Vocalist Jón Már Ásbjörnsson, Gunnar Ingi Joneson Guitar, Fannar Már Oddsson on Guitar & Vocals, Þorsteinn Gunnar Friðriksson on Bass Guitar, & Drummer Benjamín Bent Árnason.