As there is a notable metal scene in Iceland it makes sense, that this genre gets an adequate place in the line-up of the country’s most popular music festival. This night Sódóma was dedicated to metal (and its family) on Friday night – Metal Hammer night (cue the sound of creepy organs). Aside from Rolo Tomassi, all the bands came from Iceland. Seeing eight bands, all of them offering a tremendous variation in style and playing at highest standards in songwriting and musicianship, speaks volumes for the quality of metal being made in Iceland.
Though people at the festival had to find that out in the first place, which is maybe why the first band of the evening, Angist, opened the night to barely thirty people. Everyone else missed a good half hour of old-school European death metal in the vein of Asphyx or Pestilence: heavy and fast with down-tuned guitars and decent raspy growls. A slew of breakdowns and complex song-structures kept Angist from being boring, though they may still to get some confidence through experience as their appearance seemed still a little clumsy.
In contrast, the following band, Wistaria, sounded very modern, reminiscent of Lamb Of God or Killswitch Engage. From time to time even some metalcore influences popped up, especially in the vocals. They played a quite experienced set that suffered only from the bad sound (where did the vocals go?) and still too few people being there. At least they inspired the first moshpit of the evening, even if it did consist of only two people.
These grim looking guys in leather were detached on stage by four kids you would rather expect to be skateboarding than playing the most musically extreme set of the night. Gone Postal shred through their set of evil death-grind like Satan’s chainsaw doing vicious lumbering in the Garden of Eden. They did this with an astonishing power and accuracy: drums ultra-fast and precise like a sewing machine, hypnotic guitar licks that were crushed by tons-heavy breakdowns, all of which leaving you just speechless. The only problems of their set were – guess what – bad sound and a lack of audience.
Fortunately the latter had changed by the time Momentum started playing (the former is like an evil curse on almost every concert). Maybe a hundred people watched the band perform their set of atmospheric and depressed songs, which had all been composed quite demandingly but never annoying and all were performed convincingly and honestly.
The place got even livelier at ten thirty, and the following band, Endless Dark, went on to deliver the first outstanding show in terms of crowd interaction. Actually, I am pretty bored by melodic hardcore and screamo bands as this style has totally been overdone in the US and Europe, where you get a token new screamo band in your breakfast cereal box. Musically, Endless Dark are a perfect example for this phenomenon that has gotten least as penetrative as Don Henley’s song ‘Boys Of Summer’. It is like diet Coke, the first swallow is okay and sweet, the second maybe as well, but soon you realise it is missing taste. However Endless Dark played a highly energetic set with lots of sweet performance, the audience (not just metalheads) going crazy and they even had the first stage diver of the night – so there is no accounting for taste.
The biggest disappointment of the evening were Sólstafir. It wasn’t just the sound-problems (the band themselves seemed to have problems with their stage sound as well, which definitely was quite annoying for those professionals). It was also that they didn’t seem very motivated to connect with their audience in any way. They rushed a handful of songs without any highlight and promptly left the stage. From Icelandic metal legends, I would have expected some more glamour than this.
When Rolo Tomassi went on stage the room was packed. With the first note the band just exploded on stage and took the entire crowd with them. It was like a chaotic trip through Rolo Tomassi’s neon wonderland in a constantly tooting ice-cream truck with Pennywise the evil clown in the driver seat: High-voltage, barn storming, and making no stop except at the almost relieving ‘slow’ song ‘Kasia’. Maybe The Dillinger Escape Plan have the skills but Rolo Tomassi definitely have the disco power!
You could almost count people that had come over for these teenage Brits now leaving the room when they were done and Klink were up next. This band is legendary and infamous, but more for their neck breaking live-shows than for their groundbreaking releases (the band had been on hiatus for some time). The audience merely consisted of Icelandic fans and some foreigners who went on to watch their set standing still like a deer caught in some headlights. It wasn’t even that the band’s sound was so brutal – it almost seemed nostalgic like Merauder or Biohazard, just without the street-survival-blah. It was rather the fifty people in the audience seemed to burst into testosterone all of a sudden. Heavy pushing, violent dancing – cool in general but watch your neighbour! A thing that Rolo Tomassi had said before loud and clear, when it came to a small scuffle in their pit. The Klink show caused bruises and at least one broken camera. That the singer set the band’s recently printed merchandise T-shirts on fire (they apparently had printed shirts to sell at the show, but didn’t like them – so it was somehow the logical thing to just set them on fire while playing) is just a side-note as senseless and out of control as the whole aggressive outburst.
Last band of the night were Noise , who did quite a good job releasing everybody into the night with some catchy refrains in their ears. There was still a notable crowd around to listen to Noise’s heavy classic rock. Their songs based on a recipe that has already made Silverchair successful in the 90s: Take a Helmet riff, play it slower, add a gnarly, grungy, teenage singer. Stir. Ready. Not the most originate idea, but people liked it and as the band really put some effort into their performance, they should get some kudos for delivering a solid and passionate rock-show.