From Iceland — A Night of Grit and Momentum Inside The Temple Of Doom

A Night of Grit and Momentum Inside The Temple Of Doom

Published November 4, 2012

A Night of Grit and Momentum Inside The Temple Of Doom

Iceland Airwaves, you manage to surprise me. Similarly to last night, this line up is not genre specific. Sure, it’s not as wild card-y as yesterday was, this one leaning on rock and beers a bit more. A lot more, shall we say. But hey. I’ll take it. The chasm between a petite front-woman from French-Canada and super down-tuned stoner death metal is alarming. I’ll take alarming over predictable any day. So lets dig into this pile of tasty mush, why don’tcha.

Muck opened the gates of slumber. Blew out the windows is more like. They were the first band. There were few people inside. I guess pizza and beer seems more appetising than Muck at this hour. But had you know, fucker. Had ya. To make a long story short, it was conceivable the highlight of my review stint at Airwaves 12 was reached three songs deep into the quartet’s set. To make a long story semi-long, Muck was in fantastic form, fresh from a quick Euro tour. Their set was evenly split between songs of off ‘Slaves’ and their newer shit. And damn it Matlock, it was like standing in front of a jet engine. Oh the onslaught. Imagine Hunter and D.D. McCall finally having sex. Yeah. That’s what the Gamli Gaukur sounded and looked like while Muck blasted through their babies. Naturally, the crowd was subdued and shy even though the braver amongst us dared sincere headbangs and timid back ‘n’ forths. The new material is brilliant I tell ya. Remember when slowing down meant maturation? Muck piss all over such conservative sentiments. If anything, they got faster. And like any forward thinking hardcore punk band not content with standing still, they challenge the norm by exploring new territories while in the fast lane. It’s all the more impressing as a result. Where’s my hair? Oh yeah, it got blown off during the blast.

Mapping Dimma out is not easy. And that’s a good thing. Yes it is, Tim Allen. Fuck you. Firstly, no band I’ve seen during this fest came as prepared as Dimma. Moss rivalled their dedication, but this Icelandic foursome ran home with the cup in that department. But I find it hard to relate to a band that sounds dated but capable of so much more. It’s agonising really. The “it” is there, but it never comes to fruition. These seasoned veterans are neck deep in old school metal pedigree. The skills and confidence oozes experience and intent. Dimma knows what they are doing. Remember Cheers‘ Cliff Clavin? He had nothing and knew shit. Dimma is exactly the opposite. So, metal and hard rock is on the menu, served on a slow-plodding plate of operatic gothica. Scratch that last part. But don’t. There’s a hint of it, I’m not gonna lie. The performance is flawless. The drums are so tight, my jaw drops a couple of times. There are theatrics. There’s a guitar master. The singer has  range that befits the NWOHM’s best. The bass player goes hard. I’m impressed. I tip my hat. But regardless of good moments, I’m bored. There aren’t enough tempo changes and despite the theatrics, the overall vibe – musically – it’s just too serious and melancholy for it’s own good. Their so steeped in the days gone by, I cannot help but reminisce post Osbourne Black Sabbath, later day Deep Purple and King’s X (without the emotion and proper swag). That’s not a bad thing, but it doesn’t capture the imagination. Throughout their performance a valorous metal princess braved the gaping, lonely dance floor  with an untamed and unfiltered soul-dance that swooned and stole my heart. Thank you, beautiful. But as a live band, Dimma delivered. Musically, they are fraught with just a little to many mehs.

The Plastic Gods of Iceland are no strangers to this venue. In fact, they’ve destroyed it with their drawn-out doom death before but this was not their night. Plagued with an odd sound mix, they never got off the ground, despite their high-as-a-kite disposition. Jams were had, improvisations flew. Imagine a dream where you are running but suddenly find yourself in a quicksand. Now imagine a dream where you’re walking slowly  and you you’re caught  in a quicksand. Yes! It’s even slower. That’s Plastic Gods for you. There’s plenty of room to think and jive. The band – as always – displayed an insane amount of patience and a baffling on-stage interconnection. But it didn’t really catch on for some reason. Too much delay on the vocals? The three guitars and bass too low in the mix? Possibly. But the bands seemed visibly off their game and the crowd didn’t catch on. Well, that was until they shifted gears from super slow to rockin’ via “80 Pounds Of Shit” which was welcomed with a roaring applause, as if the crowd had suddenly woken up. Here the Plastic Gods were obviously enjoying themselves. Why not pick up the pace more often and let it rip from time to time, boys?

Leave it to spirited francophones in Jesuslesfilles to ignite a communion, eh. It was like Tony Danza realising he and Angela were in love. That’s how I’d describe the atmosphere when these cats hit their stride (quickly, might I add) and made an instant connection with the Airwaves crowd. It was love, damn it. This marked the first time I unwittingly spilled my beer at the behest of what was going on on stage, alone. Granted I wasn’t holding a beer glass during Muck but this was akin to being slapped in the face by free-spirited social workers. I welcomed it. The rest of the room did too. People almost danced. No. Some did actually. We were swept up in their high octane New York proto punk meets Pixies, french kissing Pretty Girls Make Graves with Unwound on speed playing in the back. Loved it. Positive vibes, loads of energy and terrific sound coming from the mixing board. It was tonight’s discovery. No one was left untouched by Jesuslesfilles. The punk drummer, the spine-providing guitarist, whiny voiced male vocalist playing guitar (his voice was perfect for the occasion, mind. Kisses.), the constant-tambourinist female vocalist… Lest we forget dreamy Sideshow Bob, his sexy moves and dat bass. So fine your licks were sir. I salute you. They got us going good.

If this half of the line-up resulted in a cake reward, it would have been generously split between Muck and Jesuslesfilles. You’re welcome. Put it in your mouth guys. Savour it. Crumbs in your lap. No paper plates. Don’t use a fork.  Fingers, yeah. Before I leave you though, read my colleagues blog, Severed Heads Open Minds. Take it away, Chris.

-Birkir Fjalar Viðarsson

“Are you from foreign country?” a sturdy voice asks the audience. With only the muffles of people saying “yeah”… “Welcome to hell mothafucka!”. Dr. Spock, a name that only conjures up thoughts of asinine obscurity – A pair of bushy eyebrows with a PhD wearing a pair of stethoscopes. As I really hone in and focus, it seems as though I am the only one who finds this whole thing a mind-fuck, the rest of the crowd is responsive to Dr. Spock’s obvious knack with connecting to the audience. Soundscapes of a maddened carnival that snorted two pints of raw ether and washed it down with a jug of absinthe envelop the venue of Gamli Gaukurinn. A luchador mask speaks the words “Where is that Mugi slut?”, playfully jabbing at Mugison who was in attendance, watching on as Dr. Spock control the crowd as if they were marionettes. As I watched, I realized that I had almost been writing in my notepad the entire time, everything going on was worth mentioning, not a single fucking dull moment… even the plentiful sounds of fart noises being architected into the microphone.

Brain Police is the musical equivalent to wolly mammoths stampeding into the eye of a hurricane battling hulking viking warriors while listening to Sabbath and punching priests in the mouth. Like Dr. Spock, Brain Police were able to connect with the crowd on genuine cosmic levels, fists in the air and hearts on fire as Brain Police hypnotize and mesmerize with their crunchy southern grit shrouded in a reefer haze. “The journey is the destination” says the vocalist to the enthusiastic crowd, and I believe we have arrived!

Strigaskór NR. 42 started off as a garage band in Kópavogur, Iceland nearly two decades ago and now here they are playing Iceland Airwaves to a thinned out crowd. The crowd may have dwindled since Brain Police, but those present are responsive and even occasionally willing to flail around like a seahorse giving birth. The drums march on in a repetitious state, teetering on the edge of monotony until you hear the big bang, segueing and shifting between odd time signatures and spacey three-dimensional textures.

Fucking Momentum man, their set was impregnable, they came out and went straight for the throat with their raucous 4-piece assault. First off, the sound quality was spot on, heavier than a dump-truck full of sledgehammers they assaulted the crowd, over and over… and over. The drums sounded like cannon fire and I could actually physically feel its thunderous clout! I sit here writing this up, with ears that are ringing like a shitty call-centre due to the sonic barrage… that and I was standing next to a towering cabinet. Gamli Gaukurinn was enraptured in this psychedelic whirl of crashing drums, churning guitars and shattering vocals. The end of the set was nigh, the mics were then shared to the crowd (among them Ingó of Plastic Gods) so they could deliver the final outcries of the night, which hoisted a contagious energy oozing throughout the small venue capping off the night and set entrancingly.

-Chris D’Alessandro


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