A Grapevine service announcement Pay attention: Holuhraun, still spewing lava. Bárðarbunga, still sinking.

Louder Than Hell And Twice As Nice!

Bob Cluness
Words by

Published August 8, 2012

So Eistnaflug 2012 has been and gone. Amongst all the fun and frolics, the growing consensus from both the fans and pundits was that this year’s festival was (whisper it) the best yet, both in terms of audience, atmosphere and the quality of the performances. Indeed, Eistnaflug 2012 seems to have highlighted a time where Iceland’s metal scene is experiencing a resurgence and purpose in both quality and profile.
In the past, it was acknowledged that there wasn’t a great deal of ambition amongst many within the scene, with bands simply being content with the odd concert at Gaukurinn or Café Amsterdam. As one promoter succinctly put it, “Too many of them are fucking lazy.”
But the past twelve months have seen increased activity and ambition from many bands. Naturally the main development was Sólstafir becoming an international-class rock band by signing with the French label Season Of Mist. In their wake, Skálmöld, Beneath, and Ophidian I have followed suit, signing with foreign independent labels.
Bands are now increasingly serious in trying to record and produce their material. This month alone sees not one, but four metal releases (Beneath, Blood Feud, Celestine, and Ophidian I), with many other acts looking to release material this year.
On stage, bands are really tightening up their sound, exhibiting a greater level professionalism across the board to the point where one of the judges noted at this year’s Wacken metal battle that if winners Gone Postal continued to perform the way they did that night, they would be signed up by a label in no time at all.
Meanwhile at the grassroots level, things seem to be in good health, with thrash revivalists Abacination, deathcore twatters World Narcosis, noise merchants Naught and MASS, the eco-black metal of Dynfari, and Iceland’s unofficial heaviest band NYIÞ.
But while the scene is going well as a whole, problems still exist in many areas for musicians, both structural and financial. While many Icelandic bands experience some form of difficulty in making records, it’s taken Celestine four years to record and produce their latest album, while Beneath have actually had their album finished for THREE years, only to suffer a myriad of delays in post production. The fact that it’s has taken so long has robbed the band of any crucial momentum they could build up if the album had come out sooner.
This situation is exacerbated by the fact that there is currently a lack of technical and managerial expertise to help the scene. Right now there are no specialist or sympathetic record labels catering for metal music in Iceland. There was Molestin Records, but they appear to be currently in hibernation. Add to this, say some metal musicians, the problem that many studios don’t have the producers/engineers able to produce metal music to a good enough standard. There are exceptions such as Studio Reflex’s Axel “Flex” Árnason, and Jóhann Ingi Sigurðsson of Studio Fossland. However, Studio Reflex is expensive, while Studio Fossland is actually in Sweden!
There have been some positive outcomes in gaining wider support and recognition for metal music from Iceland’s cultural industries. The Kraumur Music Fund has in the past awarded grants to Celestine and Endless Dark, and Sólstafir were awarded 1 million ISK this year for help with touring, while the fund also provided funds to Eistnaflug over the last few years for running costs. Meanwhile metal artists such as Gone Postal, Svartidauði and Plastic Gods have received Icelandair and City of Reykjavík’s Loftbrú grants, helping with the costs of touring.
But some metal musicians still talk of an uphill battle in getting support from cultural institutions, who they feel are simply paying lip service to their needs. One musician describes organising a three-band tour to France in 2011 with a promotional company backing them, even attending a large music conference to promote Icelandic music in the process. But despite this, they received no support from the five Icelandic music funds they applied for.
It does seem that things are slowly changing across the board.  Many in the Icelandic metal scene have shown good promise and the willingness to progress onto the next level in their music careers. But if the musicians are showing the desire, then we need to stop seeing these bands as a “niche” market compared with other genres and also start getting serious in providing the right support to the scene, whether it’s with touring and releasing records, or with more long terms aspects, such as labels or increasing studio expertise.



Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

Time To Get Planny! The Airwaves Schedule Is Up

by

In case anyone missed it, Iceland Airwaves have released the official festival schedule in the shape of this handy PDF. Once you’ve scanned the lineup (and, if your taste lies on the art-pop side, realised with mounting horror that Future Islands (pictured) and The Knife are a direct Saturday night clash), you can head over to the Airwaves website and start constructing your personalised schedule here. The festival’s official lineup kicks off on the evening of Wednesday 5th November, but for early arrivals or particularly eager festival-goers, there’ll be music throughout Wednesday daytime too. The “off-venue” schedule will be dropping

Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

Autumnal Blues

by and

The pouring rain in the past couple of weeks has made it painfully obvious: autumn is upon us. It’s the time of the year when it’s best to stay inside, curl up in a foetal position under a blanket and drink some hot cocoa. For that kind of non-activity you need a soundtrack. Here is ours. Megas: “Tvær Stjörnur”  Autumn is a time for heartbreak if there ever was one, and “Tvær stjörnur,” a song about lost love and the inevitable passing of time, is Megas at his most romantic and bittersweet. Megas, whose vocals are usually raspy and indistinct,

Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

Biophilia Keeps Growing

by

Björk’s Biophilia continues to run and run, still growing new branches and tendrils three years after its live premiere at the Manchester International Festival. One addition is Biophilia 203, a continuation of the education project that the album spawned, which is currently making it’s way out of Iceland and into the curriculum of other Scandinavian countries. The project has been taken up by the Nordic Council of Ministers until 2016, after going through a refining process via a group of notable Nordic scientists, professors and educators, and Björk herself. “I knew from the start was that this would be the only

Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

PU$$WHIPPE ’93 MANIFESTOEN

by

“I don’t give a fuck/on that new school punk shit,/ all these niggas suck/this that new school funk shit,/Dizzee fell off /and Kano did too” Bounequou Fitzroi, aka Zack Taylor, from the song “SHUT THE FUCK UP” Much like the above-quoted dope UK hip-hop track, LORD PUSSWHIP is a critical reaction to the local music scene; to the inertia and nepotism of the Icelandic music industry; to typical small-town boredom. I do not want to make music that’s easy, formulaic or safe. I want the explosiveness—the fun, the surprise, the batshit insanity. We Icelanders are so open-minded and of course

Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

The Knife, Neutral Timberlake And The French Connection

by and

Just as it appeared that Iceland Airwaves’ giant lineup couldn’t get any more packed with big name international acts (see: The Flaming Lips, Caribou, Future Islands), the festival pulls a final Scandinavian ace from its sleeve. Yup, local music fanatics’ jaws collectively dropped when a long coveted Airwaves performance by sibling duo The Knife was announced earlier this month. Add to this the fact that the Swedish electro institution announced that very day that they would be calling it quits after the current tour, of which the Airwaves date will be the last, and you’ve got a music nerd meltdown

Culture
Music
<?php the_title(); ?>

40 More Acts Announced For Iceland Airwaves

by

After the big reveal of The Knife’s Iceland Airwaves performance last week, the festival has released 40 new additions for the 2014 edition. The announcement includes a fine selection of local artists, including Grapevine’s band of the year Sin Fang, the Ólafur Arnalds/Janus Rasmussen techno partnership Kiasmos, emerging nu-electronica maestro M-Band, and bearded musical polymath Mugison. From abroad, the UK indie label Domino Records will send over two of their finest, with virtuoso guitarist Anna Calvi bringing her dramatic sound to Reykjavík, alongside label-mate How To Dress Well. They’re joined by Bella Union’s indie-psych band Horse Thief, Canadian noise-rock outfit

Show Me More!