Published December 19, 2014
Not A Fan – Bogi Bjarnason
For someone whose life revolves around metal, trying to get through an entire Skálmöld album in one sitting is like subjecting yourself to Chinese water torture. Throughout the whole, endless run-time, the only thing I could think was, “What did those poor instruments ever do to you guys?” When the choruses kicked in, I was left wondering if Einar Bárðarson—or whoever is behind this marketing ploy—had not fully understood the results his “define: metal” Google search.
Basically, the utter dreck coming out of my speakers sounds like the whole album was mixed through a filter of Easy Cheese, and the few Taco Riffs which that cheese was sprayed on top of were of the Taco Bell kind.
The consensus within the local metal scene about this band and its music—this album included—is that somewhere along the way something went terribly awry, and what we are now stuck with is being represented internationally by an entity that doesn’t come close to defining what the scene—and the talent, passion and hard work that goes into keeping such a high standard of quality—is about. It’s like the local metel scene has been hijacked, kind of like parliament was hijacked by a slack-jawed horde of utter buffoons that no one will admit to having voted for.
Such is the high price of the lowest common denominator.
Their Best Work Yet – Snorri Örn Rafnsson
A Skálmöld fan since the very beginning, I was feeling quite giddy when I first laid my ears on their new album, ‘Með vættum’. Granted, there was a hint of worry in my fragile little heart, since it’s not super uncommon that third albums are completely crappy and useless.
Not this one though.
This one is completely awesome, in almost every way.
I’ve always been fond of bassist/lyricist Snæbjörn’s storytelling prowess. The Skálmöld M.O. of making all the songs part of an epic story told throughout the album just makes listening to the whole thing that much more satisfying.
And then, there is the music.
Most of the songs are very good. Those that aren’t—they’re awesome.
The new songs are less “catchy” than the songs that make up Skálmöld’s two prior LPs. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, though: the band declared beforehand that they wanted to make a very heavy metal album,. And that’s what they did.
‘Með vættum’ is a powerful album, the often-long tracks chock-full of great riffs and wonderful solos. And so much screaming. Skálmöld still play Viking metal, make no mistake. This time around, though, there’s a lot more metal, and a bit less Viking.
I really do like the fact that they play a lot more with the voice of guitarist Baldur this time around. Listening to that guy’s screams literally makes my throat hurt. Keyboardist Gunnar Ben also jumps in more this time around to recite poems. As ever, though, it is Björgvin’s growly voice that carries all the brunt of the songs, and he does a stellar job as always.
Those three voices contradict and support each other in a weird, yet satisfying way. Somehow it all works out great.
Those who forked out for a physical version of ‘Með vættum’ will also enjoy the awesome artwork of Ásgeir Jón, who also did the artwork for the band’s sophomore effort, ‘Börn Loka’. He truly brings the world of Skálmöld to life with his enthralling depictions of dragons and giants and war and death.
Skálmöld is a band that loves doing what they do: playing together and delivering great music and fantasies in the process. Here’s hoping they keep at it for a long, long time.