Track by Track: HAM - ‘Söngvar Um Helvíti Mannana’ - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Track by Track: HAM – ‘Söngvar Um Helvíti Mannana’

Track by Track: HAM – ‘Söngvar Um Helvíti Mannana’

Published July 17, 2017

Hannah Jane Cohen
Photo by
Marino Thorlacius

Icelandic rock megaliths HAM recently dropped their newest album, ‘Söngvar um helvíti mannanna’, or “Songs about the Hell of Man.” We sat down with the group to hear more about their hellish world.

1. Eldur (“Fire)

HAM: This is one of many songs on the album which deals with visitors, in this case, a happy and welcome visitor—one who is missed after he leaves. A welcome visitor is not always the case in our songs, usually they are unwelcome.

In “Eldur,” this visitor has access to the box of eternal fire, which gives them a vision into eternal hell. Eternal fire is our inevitable future. In the end, everything will burn.

2. Þú lýgur (“You Lie”)

HAM: Betrayal is a strong theme here—the betrayal of old friends. Here, an old friend is attempting to pretend that everything is hunky-dory but really, that this is not so. The lies will not be forgotten and there will be no second chances. He is not fooled by any smirky smile.

3. Sýnir sá (“Visions”)

HAM: “Sýnir sá” is a double entendre that can mean “Visions” or “The One Who Shows.” This is a precautionary tale about sight, seeing a future that is not pretty. Visions from another world can be sexy, but they can be dangerous and open doors that should not be opened.

4. Skuggi (“Shadow”)

HAM: “Skuggi” is about someone who wants to be left alone sitting in the shadow on his porch. Although there is loneliness and yearning, the song also celebrates the warmth that lies in the shadow and in the closeness of the dark.

5. Gamli maðurinn og asninn (“The Old Man and the Donkey”)

HAM: This is very different from the others, the odd song out. This is a tale but we are still talking about something hellish. There is danger lurking, some discomfort. It could all happen in hell.

6. Vestur Berlín (“West Berlin”)

HAM: This was the first single released from the album. It is new wave-ish with a goth atmosphere, celebrating the declining murky world between other places and West Berlin, as well as our own time there as young musicians.

7. Þú fórst hvurt (“Where Did You Go”)

HAM: Here, we harken back to disco and the wonderful world of the Weimar Republic. It has a different feel but still mysterious and titillating.

8. Morðingjar (“Murderers”)

HAM: In “Morðingjar,” a man is singing from death as he is being murdered. Musically, it is pretty unusual for HAM—a slow goth new wave ballad. This song had a very long gestation. We have been working on it for many years.

9. Ég senn dey (“I Will Soon Die”)

HAM: Old friends, fear, visitors coming—the usual themes of the album, but here there is a twist. In this case, the friends have been apart for half a century. One is in danger, living far away, with unknown enemies.

10. Brekka (“Hill”)

HAM: If you would say “Gamli maðurinn og asninn,” is the odd one out, then this song is even odder. The lyrics are about modern things—cars, transportation. It’s a basic story about a trucker who loses his brakes on a mountain road. It’s a good song to end with. There is absolutely nothing mysterious here. Totally unmysterious, absolutely basic.

Read more Track by Track here

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