The Airwaves festival is a good thing. Bunch of bands, amalgam of styles and genres. Couple of great bands, bunch of good ones, healthy dose of meh-bands and then there are the selected annoying, pretentious and pathetic bands. And I wouldn’t want it any other way, really. Strength through diversity, eh? This year’s line-up has less heavy, raging and extreme bands than before, so why not take a look at some bands not included in the fest, but are still worthy of your attention, seeing as you are snooping around the Icelandic grassroots anyway.
At Dodge City, are a busy bunch. Playing shows frequently and all over the place. Not a million miles away from later-day Poison The Well and Every Time I Die at their most calmed down and hook-minded. Featuring confident and dynamic vocals as well as pretty rough sounding bass.
Atrum rule, OK? These guys play cold, heathen, blackened death metal with the right amount of thrashy rawness to keep them in safe distance from the polished and lame sound of many of today’s larger metal acts. But that’s not enough to impress me. The kicker here is some bloody good song writing that doesn’t rely on low-tunings or studio trickery. Great dual vocals in just the right places, topped with lead vocals that bring to mind Celtic Frost and Bathory from time to time. Boner inducing.
Which brings me to Beneath, who also have an air of maturity around them, due to the fact that two of the members are, erm, old. In Icelandic metal terms, at least. But fear not, their brand of modern death metal is plenty modern and dense with layers upon layers of intricate guitar work, melodies and crushing mid-tempo parts. Each song has so much going on that it could confuse you at first listen but stick with it and it will prove more musical than you’d anticipated.
Bastard never really pull it off live and in the beginning there were too many awkward elements going on in their music, but luckily for them their progression is a positive one and they are going into the right direction with their dynamic blackened death.
Iceland’s heaviest Celestine deliver a sonic combination that ends with a devastating knock out, each and every time they step into the ring. This band keeps pushing their sound at an even pace, with pretty much new songs to add to their much loved set-lists every three months or something. Such is the prolific work ethic of these young lads.
What happens when a black metal band has a nu-metal-sounding name? Nothing. That’s what happens. Chao play furious black metal that is true to the alienating, raw, monotonous and simple elements that made the genre so notorious. But this is not some throwback, retro stuff. The song structures, dynamic drumming, evil yet catchy guitar picking as well as the surprising stop and go’s make Chao a breath of fresh and Christ killing air in the Icelandic metal scene. So good.
Momentum is one of the most talked about bands today, which is pretty impressive as they rarely play. The band keeps evolving, playing with people’s expectations. Having long since forsaken their black metalish beginnings, we now find them in some psychedelic proggy metal sphere. Makes them all the more curious.
Not nearly as spaced out but indefinitely more baked are seekers of the riff, Plastic Gods. Iceland’s only band that is proper in their doom, sludge and heavy stoner dabblings. Boris, Sunn 0))) and Grief come to mind. Rad.
Ever so catholic, Severed Crotch remain the scene’s most beloved band. Liked by metalheads of varying degrees, they somehow manage to marry a raging party time with their technical ultra brutal death metal. Set firmly in the modern genre, these days we see them flirt a little with the old school as well. And it works charms.
Svartidauði is probably the most true and uncompromising in their take on no-bullshit, misanthropic, pro-degradation black metal. Naturally they are kvlt-as fuck and actually deserve the hype, because their BM will hurt you, and your friends will hate it. Wonderful.
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Posted October 13, 2009