Thursday marked the first day of fabled metal-fest Eistnaflug, along with my first time attending. The sun shining bright, I put on my best Burzum shirt and got ready to headbang the day away.
Auðn opened the festival promptly at 14:30. Maybe it was due to the early hour, maybe festivalgoers were still arriving, but the crowd was sparse. People around told me that the festival’s venue this year is massive—much larger than the one that hosted Eistnaflugs prior—and that seemed to dwarf the performance.
In spite of all these setbacks though, the band killed it. Like a sea of sound, Auðn washed over the crowd and grabbed them in its riptide. The crowd looked inspired. I’ve listened to their album quite a bit, but their live performance adds a new dimension to their music. Their frontman, Hjalti, is fucking bleak; he puts out a scary vibe that is at once enchanting and beckons you to keep watching. It’s more than just his gimmick-y hood and face-paint though—he knows what he’s doing. They are a fucking masterpiece.
Sinmara was the next black metal act that played Thursday. Heavier and less melodic than Auðn, the boys had a lively performance with a killer light show—so good that I actually noticed it, and how often does that happen? The band drew a large audience and kept their spirits up, such as the three guys next to me who clasped shoulders and headbanged together in sync. It was heartwarming—exactly what you’d expect from a band whose last album was called, ‘Aphotic Womb‘.
Now before Thursday, I had never heard any Agent Fresco before, and as I stood and watched their show, I could only think one thing: Jesus Christ, why the hell are they playing here? With their poppy style, the music abruptly took me out of the metal-trip I was on. Don’t get me wrong—they are awesome performers with an amazing stage presence, but their music seemed inappropriate for the festival.
Carcass and Rotting Christ were Thursday’s headliners, but it seemed to be universally agreed around the festival (with the exception of old-skool metal-heads in their 50s and 60s) that they were pretty boring. Both metal legends, neither had a particularly grand stage presence. While I (and most Eistnaflug-goers) prefer the musical style of Carcass and Rotting Christ, I would have rather watched Agent Fresco tear up the stage than those old guys stand there. I did not watch the entirety of their sets.
My highlight of the day was Mannveira, who played at the off-off-venue, Blúskjallarinn. At a small and smokey basement, it was an intimate show. The sound was shit. The audience was leather-clad. In short, it was everything you could ask for from a black metal show. Yeah, it’s great to be in a large concert hall, but if you’re looking to get kvlt, a dark basement is really the only appropriate place. Every audience member seemed captivated, and that’s something that doesn’t happen everyday.
More from the GV’s Eistnaflug coverage: