From Iceland — An Acceptable Night Out In The Cold – Hressó Pt. 1

An Acceptable Night Out In The Cold – Hressó Pt. 1

Published November 2, 2013

An Acceptable Night Out In The Cold – Hressó Pt. 1
Gabríel Benjamin
Photo by
Páll Hilmarsson

Sitting down in a booth at Hressó, like so many times before, I raised an eyebrow as a female led group joyfully played through pop songs on stage, smiling from ear to ear – this didn’t sound at all like what I imagined Svartidauði! It wasn’t until I made it to  the bar and had ordered my drink that I was informed of a second stage out back in the garden.

Svartidauði (“Black Death”) were dressed like a group of UK anarchists: all leathered up with black scarves covering their faces. In any other venue, I imagine they would be close to overheating wearing such a heavy getup, but they pull it off at Hressó. Their black metal sound can best be described as a Molotov cocktail exploding in all of its crude glory. The instruments all fought for attention at the same time, clashing disharmoniously , which was perhaps fitting for the apocalyptic theme of the band. The gathered throng nodded along innocently, smoking and drinking away. If I were to go postal, Svartidauði would be the soundtrack I’d play to my violent homicidal spree.

Wistaria label themselves as progressive metalcore, but for all of their antics, they leave much to be desired, and lost a few people from the crowd. The singer and bass player had an energetic stage presence, but the energy failed to be contagious. There were two guys, however, that were inspired to start dancing in that incredibly off-beat fashion white people are known for, as you can see below:

Wistaria played one new song which seemed to have more layers and sense to it than the rest of their set.

Momentum were up next, and they were wearing different coloured shirts than last night (when I also saw them play), but the rest of their set sounded almost identical to that performance. The small venue  afforded me the luxury of being able to appreciate the full range of facial expressions from the singer, and I could more accurately evaluate who had the healthiest hair. People trickled their way in and seem really chill as the band rips through their heavy song “The Freak Is Alive.” I appreciated the delicate guitar work, but the vibe seemed too sober, and the band took a while to get into their groove, much like yesterday.

Strigaskór nr. 42 are legends of the Icelandic metal scene. They were formed in the ‘80s and have influenced a lot of other Icelandic musicians without breaking out themselves. It is easy to see they are very experienced, and without sounding gob-smacking amazing, they are the tightest band to perform at Hressó that night. Everything is done in measured steps, with simple vocals giving way to a rich sound from two guitarists, a bass player, two trumpets, a trombone, the occasional keys, and a drummer who played confidently without breaking a sweat. The band members looked like they were performing on rote. The crowd was satisfied, but far from wild.

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