Eistnaflug: The Grapevine Picks

Eistnaflug: The Grapevine Picks

Photos by
Guðný Lára Thorarensen

Published July 6, 2015

Bogi Bjarnason:

Behemoth

Some would argue that Behemoth is the hottest commodity in extreme metal at the moment. Last year’s ‘The Satanist’ LP, the band’s tenth, collected a slew of album of the year awards the world over, and on stage they are an unstoppable dark force performing immense theatrical shows filled with heart rending intensity across a flaming backdrop of towering inverted crosses set ablaze seemingly by nothing more than the spark of the band’s blasphemous fury.

In the wake of front man Nergal’s recent battle with leukemia, they have risen Phoenix-like from the ashes of despair to ride a wave of unparalleled appreciation and are set to perform what will undoubtedly be the most extravagant set in the festival’s history.

Momentum

Momentum share the dubious honour, with fellow dirge mongers Sólstafir, of being one of only two bands to have performed at every single Eistnaflug edition to date.

They hawk a doom laden stew of technically dazzling prog so far out of left field that a new moniker had to be minted just to separate their lonely sub-genre from its lesser peers.

Like their partner’s in arms, Sólstafir, the band slaved away single-mindedly for untold years before a modicum of success finally came knocking in the form of a Roadburn Festival booking, and, subsequently, an international signing with Norway’s Dark Essence Records. A long deserved signing that paved the way for their long awaited sophomore LP ‘The Freak Is Alive’, a true benchmark in Icelandic metal history.

This year sees them performing with the support of instrumental chamber punk trio Malneirophrenia, for an experience that will surely prove as avant as it will garde.

Icarus

Icarus may well prove to fly in the footsteps of their namesake Greek in a hubris-like ascent towards the zenith of the hardcore scene.

Last year’s self released debut record was like a slap to the face of those toiling away in obscurity for years upon years never having achieved what Icarus did in the blink of an eye. Heavy US touring followed and ultimately they relocated to Brooklyn, New York, striving towards a distant dream that looks like its ready to manifest through their recent signing with Power Kingdom management and the interest from major HC labels piqued in the aftermath.

In Icarus, expect a live performance like snapped high-tension wires on fire, flailing recklessly about in a perfect storm of aural mayhem.

Auðn

Auðn are a rare flower that, like Icarus, blossomed unexpectedly from the barren ground with a record that is leap years ahead of what the average self released debut tends to offer in the sense of enduring quality. The band, who wrote their first song in a shack in the Icelandic wilderness during the height of a frostbitten winter, have—as is customary in the black metal scene—only released small international runs of physical albums on both plastic and cassette through tiny foreign labels.

At this year’s Wacken Metal Battle they shone a dark light luminous as said winter night across a mesmerized audience rapt in tonal chords of beauty so searing in their bleakness as to draw a lonesome tear from this writer’s jaded eye.

Hannah Jane Cohen:

Misþyrming

Misþyrming burst onto the local black metal scene this January with their debut album ‘Söngvar elds og óreiðu’. The release quickly took the black metal world by storm, bringing the Icelanders to Norway’s Inferno Fest in May, and booking them Bergen’s Beyond the Gates Festival in August—no small feat for a new band from a small country.

With a distorted, dark, but strangely melodic take on black metal, Misþyrming’s music is not for the faint hearted. They colour early-Mayhem-esque riffs with a fury and sea of sound that is nothing but modern.

Live, they go all out—bullet belts, animal blood*, and a relentless slaughter that’s intense but mesmerising. This is, not to be cheesy, true fucking black metal.

Their set time is pretty early at Eistnaflug, but if you’re looking to start your day by exploring the depths of nothingness and nihilism, you can’t miss Misþyrming.

Enslaved

Enslaved is an act that defies definition. Though they started in the early ‘90s as a typical Scandinavian black metal act, they’ve since altered and taken elements from many other metal genres —symphonic keyboards, epic instrumental passages, technical riffs, 90s alt-rock clean vocals— but everything always returns to the pure black metal brutality of singer Grutle Kjellson’s grunts. It feels like he was just born to rasp.

Their new album ‘In Times’ brings the band’s technical style into a surprising melange of prog and black metal. While metalheads tend to be elitists about genre, the album’s mix feels accessible and enjoyable —metal you could introduce your non-metal friends to.

Live, Enslaved is true black metal royalty. They know what they are doing; they’ve been doing it for longer than you, and man are they fucking good at it.

Vallenfyre

Vallenfyre is so often referred to as only the side project of Paradise Lost’s Gregor Mackintosh, but that’s an unfair description —the project can absolutely stand on its own two feet.

Most know Paradise Lost, but if you’ve never heard of Vallenfyre, go to Youtube right now and watch the video for their single, “Splinters”. Not only is the song incredible, but the video will freak you out. Yes, welcome to the hellish world of Vallenfyre. This music is not for weaklings.

The band’s sound is unrelentingly torturous. Their metal is rough, emotional, and vicious —don’t be surprised if you feel more than you anticipated. The project started after Mackintosh lost his father and his grief colours every moment of the music. Live, Mackintosh is a true showman —a heavy metal vet and an incredibly emotive performer. Vallenfyre might not be the most uplifting act at Eistnaflug, but mark my words; they are certainly one of the most powerful.

*Correction: While we initially reported that Misþyrming covered themselves in fake blood, we were contacted by the band who corrected us that it was actually animal blood collected from “any source accessible”. In their words, they are not “poseurs”.

You might also be interested in the following article:

eistnaflugEistnaflug: The Past, Present And Future Of The World’s Friendliest Metal Festival
Since kicking off a decade ago, the Eistnaflug festival has slowly cemented its place as the most beloved, most important phenomenon in the world of Icelandic metal. And it all started as a hobby project, a way to pass the time and have some fun.


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