From Iceland — Thrash Revival

Thrash Revival

Published July 13, 2007

Thrash Revival

There’s still hope my friend,” bellowed I Adapt’s singer Birkir. The second band on stage, these hardcore mainstays pounded through Future in You, from their recent 7” release, From Town to Town. Misplaced optimism? Perhaps. Their set was ravaged by poor sound quality and technical problems that affected band and audience alike.

Ploughing through material from their 7” as well as their upcoming album – which will sound notably heavier than previous offerings – the band did its best to overcome early difficulties. But despite an energetic effort from these notorious live performers, it was likely their poorest performance in quite some time.

Fortunately, I Adapt’s sub-standard delivery was sandwiched by solid sets by two bands that made their name nearly twenty years ago. Opening the night’s proceedings was the recently reincarnated thrash metal mob Trassar. Originally founded in 1987, it is the second oldest metal act in Iceland. The modern-day version features two founding members, guitarists Rúnar and Bjössi, aided by a competent rhythm section, most notably Ampop drummer Jón Geir, who showed a new side to himself as a top notch metal drummer. The band is fronted by Ólafur Bjarnason, a 15-year veteran of European opera houses.

Bjarnason is a powerful vocalist, although he does sound a pitch too high on occasion, his vibrant voice prompting memories of Helloween’s Michael Kiske at times. With riffs written in straight-up thrash metal fashion and an opera-style vocalist (an unusual concoction for sure), Trassar’s passionate and theatrical show is likely to have converted a few sceptical minds in the audience.

Following I Adapt was the oldest operational metal band in Iceland, Bootlegs. Formed in 1986, the band was on hiatus from 1991 until it was reformed in 2005. If memory serves me right, this was quite the legendary band in the early ‘90s. Although they hardly look the part anymore, except for drummer Kristján, they play aggressive thrash, with a dash of speed and an have an infectiously spry attitude, for their age. Although some of their songs sound a little dated, the vehement Thrash Attack could serve as a dictionary definition of thrash metal as it epitomes everything that was good and decent about the genre in the‘80s.

Bringing the show to an end were extrememetallers Changer. The fivesome brought their usual chaos-inducing brutality and showed they are still the kings of the Icelandic metal scene. Behind the abrasive grunts of vocalist Egill and back-up vocalist Gísli, Changer put on a gruesome set. Sadly, they were interrupted repeatedly by the general drunkenness of the few patrons still left in the house by the time they started playing. The band deserved better.

This problem was in part due to the delay of the show. Opening act, Trassar, stepped on stage at midnight, an hour after the announced time. The delay did little to enthuse the relatively scarce audience that showed up. I suggest a mandatory 10 pm. riff-off for all future dates. Perhaps I am getting old.

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