Over the past 15 years, Eistnaflug has grown from a tiny one-room DIY shindig to one of the biggest festivals in Iceland. This year, though, in honour of its 15th anniversary, the Neskaupstaður metal festival is going back to its roots. It’s scaling down, returning to its original venue (the smaller Egilsbúð community centre), and focusing whole-heartedly on showcasing a mix of large international headliners and newer Icelandic acts. While smaller, the horizon for the festival is—in contrast to its music—bright as all hell.
Small & sweaty
“It’s been fun watching it change,” General Manager Magný Rós Sigurðardóttir says, sitting back in a conference room in the National Library—perhaps an uncharacteristic locale for a metalhead. “When I started going, it was a small festival of Icelandic bands, and having that morph into bands like Behemoth or Meshuggah playing in Neskaupstaður, it’s surreal.”
Eistnaflug, it must be said, not only put Neskaupstaður on the map, but it also put Icelandic metal on the international circuit. The festival, the first dedicated metal event in the country, is single-handedly responsible for bringing foreign metal journalists to Iceland and pointing them to up-and-coming acts. Many bands got their start there at the raucous party.
This year, though, it’s quieting down. “We’re going back to basics,” Magný explains. “We’re going back to Egilsbúð for a small and sweaty Eistnaflug.” While it was fun to have huge crowds and big bands, Magný emphasises, this iteration will be more personal. “Now nobody can hide away somewhere; you’ll be able to sit in the grass outside the venue and speak to everyone.”
Black metal, viking metal
Magný is particularly excited by the newer Icelandic bands on the Eistnaflug roster. She names doom metal mavericks Morpholith—who recently won Iceland’s Wacken Metal Battle 2019—as a particular favourite. Another standout are the power metal breakout stars of Paladin. “That’s a new band, but looking at the crowd during the first ever Paladin concert, they were having so much fun,” Magný reminisces. “You had all kinds of metalheads singing along with their fists in the air—black metal, viking metal, death metal people—I’m looking forward to that.”
For more established acts, Magný recommends catching Auðn, Une Misère, Sólstafir, and Dimma.
Though it’s first and foremost a metal festival, that doesn’t mean there won’t be some good ole’ fashion partying. This year, a glitter-festooned diversion will be championed by none other than the King of Icelandic pop, Páll Óskar. “He’s playing on Saturday night,” Magný exclaims. “Then everyone will be dancing.” She grins. “At least, I will be!”
Info: Eistnaflug runs from July 10th to July 14th in Neskaupstaður. Tickets are 18,900 ISK.
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