Epidermal Veil talks human carnage and Reykjavík Deathfest
We are back with another Filthy Interview and believe me, this one is the filthiest. This time, I spoke with members of Epidermal Veil, who also organise the appropriately named Reykjavík Deathfest, happening September 29 to 30 at Gaukurinn. Our topics of conversation spanned from unintentional vegan propaganda to goofy Hawaiian shirts – as many so often do.
Epidermal Veil is Arnar 1.0 on bass, Arnar 2.0 on guitar, Stebbi on drums, Siggi on lead guitar and Ingó on vocals. The band’s formation in late 2021 was quite spontaneous, as Stebbi recalls a drunken, almost-Christmas evening that led to their inception. Siggi chimes in, remembering how Stebbi messaged him on Facebook with a simple question: “Do you want to form a band?”
It was a decision that took them in another direction from their previous musical projects, particularly Devine Defilement. “I wanted to do something not involving any of the Devine Defilement guys, which is pretty ironic,” says Ingó. Ironic, as three of five members of Epidermal Veil are also in Devine Defilement. For reference, Devine Defilement is hands down the biggest death metal band in Iceland these days.
“I am sure most local bands say they are inspired by the grimness and darkness of Icelandic nature,” comments Ingó. “But with Epidermal Veil we’d rather be somewhere sweaty and hot. It’s our way to say ‘fuck you all, with the all-black dress code and the dead-serious attitude. Just put on some goofy Hawaiian shirts and have fun, you assholes!’”
Space: The Final Frontier
Epidermal Veil’s concept is as unique as its name. It revolves around an alien force that abducts humans, taking their skin and turning them into cattle.
“I like Star Trek, and there is one episode where an alien takes the face of a beautiful woman. The name Epidermal Veil comes from that, although it was originally a demo title,” explains Siggi. Ingó remarks: “Is there anything more death metal than skinning a person?”
The band is currently working on a full-length album, with Siggi, Stebbi and Ingó penning the lyrics and developing the storyline. “We are basically writing vegan propaganda,” laughs Stebbi, emphasising the theme of cruelty and the substitution of humans for animals to highlight the horror. A fun fact about the whole skinning and domestication process is that, in their storyline, only men are targeted.
When asked to distinguish Epidermal Veil from Devine Defilement, Siggi explains that while the latter leans towards groove and heavy slams, Epidermal Veil is more technical and melodic. Stebbi adds, “It’s like [Swedish death-metal band] At The Gates with blast beats,” all about speed and crescendos.
“From Death Comes Awesome Death Metal”
The Reykjavík Deathfest, founded in 2016 by Ingó, is a slamming celebration of death metal. He mentions that this idea initially started at the Norðanpaunk festival when he and co-conspirator Aðalsteinn from Auðn decided that there was not enough death metal around at that time. Over the years, it has developed into an event for both Icelandic and international bands. Ingó and the other organisers seem to have a clear mission, and as he takes a sip of his beer he exclaims: “More death metal in Iceland, now!”
Choosing the festival’s lineup is a collaborative process. The organisers meet regularly to discuss bands, practice and enjoy some drinks. “They have been working so hard, having so many meetings. They were preparing before preparing,” comments Unnur from Svartþoka who tagged along to Epidermal Veil’s chat with the Grapevine, just to hang out. Stebbi emphasises that the selection process prioritises talent over personal taste. They receive numerous submissions and aim to provide an opportunity for international bands. Some are even willing to perform for close to no compensation, in order to come experience Iceland. This inclusivity of international bands is reflected in their commitment to connecting emerging Icelandic bands with big names from the global death metal scene.
As for the Icelandic death metal scene, it’s thriving with new bands like False Majesty and Epidermal Veil breathing fresh life into the genre. Stebbi notes that the nature of death metal is cyclical, with bands evolving and emerging. “When a death band dies, another one is born.” Ingó aptly summarises: “From death comes awesome death metal. The scene is changing, and gatekeeping is a thing of the past.”
Two strikes and you’re out
There are ambitious plans for the future of the Deathfest, including two editions of the festival each year, following the model of some other international festivals. According to Stebbi, “It’s going to be insane, with one big event in the fall and one in the spring. Along with all the warm-up shows in between, of course.” They are even looking into involving other Scandinavian organisers, fostering the Nordic death metal network. “We are going to Oslo to a warm-up event for the Oslo Deathfest. We are looking forward to collaborating with other death festival organisers,” says Ingó.
Epidermal Veil performs alongside Icelandic and international acts. Ones to watch are locals Duft and Kookaveen, as well as Ruun (NO), Mulciber (US), and Spawned from Hate (UK). Additionally, festival tickets for next year will go on sale on September 30, so be sure to grab your tickets early! As Stebbi puts it, “See you in the pit, and remember: two strikes and you’re out!”
Rendezvous at Gaukurinn on 29-30 September for this year’s Deathfest, it’s gonna be a slamming good time, where Epidermal Veil will turn us all (or almost) into cattle. Follow @epidermalveil on social media and stay up to date with future abductions.
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