Monday, 19 August 2013

Mother Country Music Loving... 3

Skálmöld - Is the latest hottest shit to run wild in Iceland. They play what can be only called Viking Metal of THE purest variety, Evian style. They came out of nowhere, but now you have Choir of the Elderly and pre-school kids singing their songs. They've only been going since 2009. All the members are veterans of the Icelandic music scene, but none, as far as I'm aware of anyway, ever played in a metal band. They are melodic to the extreme, well rehearsed and well written. And jolly, lets not forget jolly. The first album "Baldur" was a work of conceptual masterpiece and it came out in 2010. The story is as follows:

Baldur is a hired farm hand,  who has a wife and two boys. And he's very happy with his little lot in life. Considering that most of his life has been about bloodshed and fighting as a Viking mercenary for years. One day while he goes out fishing, with his family tucked up in bed, a creature arrives and attacks the farm. The creature goes about and slashes, rips, claws and half-eats all living beings on the farm, including Baldur's wife and children, then torches the farm. Baldur wows to avenge their deaths, calls for his former fighting partners and they go hunting for the creature that did this evil deed.

So the tale is set for a revengeance story of the highest calibre. Blood, guts and glory. With a little sprinkle of love. There's sprinkle of all sorts of music styles going on, from Iron Maiden is invoked in the song Kvaðning(which also has an exceptionally over-wrought music video to boot.) to Slayer inspired tune in Dauði onto power metal style in Upprisa. Björgvin the singer, has a vocal style that does taking used too, Unlike the music, which has more melodic hooks to catch people's unawares then Pinhead's Hell, but it fits perfectly. He's got this gruff, rough, commander/authoritative bark, and you believe every word he says(when you understand what he's singing of course). What does help as well is that they break it up with choir singing, where everyone in the band join in and they also got a proper real Viking Gods Goth to chant at the beginning of the album. There is a happy ending, of sorts. Baldur finds the creature, who is vocalized by the singer from Solstafir, and after a long battle manages to kill it but only after getting fatally wounded. But during his dying moments, he sees his wife and children, happily playing on the other side and looks forward to joining them as well as getting his rightful place in Valhalla.

This album is my favourite album to work out with, the tempo is right and it gets the testosterone juices flowing. Musically it's all very tight and well rehearsed. Which brings me to another point, because they are so tight and well rehearsed and spend ages one each riff, each drum beat and each instrument to get it all just right, has brought them some scorn from a minority of people who seemed to have something against bands being, well... professional, hipsters who have this tendency to dislike anything and everything that becomes popular, because their parents or grandparents like it. Seriously get a fucking grip and let go. This is music on epic scale with plenty of cheese grated on, and it's delivered with gusto and panache!

Now as for their second album Börn Loka, which was published in 2012, is more of the same. And it works. Again. It is brilliant. On par with Baldur, if maybe a little bit more progressive. They even touch on black metal in the song Hel, where Edda from Angist makes an appearance as Hel. This time the story is centred on Loki and his children. There's not an awful lot I can say about this album, that I haven't said about Baldur. So... I won't. Except that I do love both albums.

Mammút. Is probably the most indie band that I've written about and own an album by. So far you can listen to the first album on Gogoyoko and the second album(Karkari) on Spotify. They've got this kooky, loose way of playing, and the drums always seem just a little off. The first album was well a little forgettable. Some songs like Mosavaxin Börn and Þeir Reyna, gave good indications of what was to come. Karkari on the other hand is exquisite. Pure champagne. It's a very rocky album, you can hear a bit of stoner rock going on there, there's a gorgeous ballad, a bit of Smashing Pumpkins(except with good singing), and this time I will concede that the singer does echo Björk(uggh), but only slightly, in as much that she comes across like a mischievous elf with a bit of malice bubbling underneath the surface.  It is definitely a great rock album, and there's a lot of fun to be had with it. I did see them live during Eistnaflug in 2008, and that is what they were. Fun.

In a very good sense they do stand out like a sore thumb in the Icelandic music scene, and I do really look forward to listen to their future output.

There. I've exhausted my supply of bands from Iceland to write about. In the meantime, may I introduce Norn and Tentacles of Doom.

Edit: You can read the first part and the second part.

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