Necrolust: The Best of Eistnaflug
Last month I was lucky enough to attend the kind of festival that makes me happiest: small, intimate, and carefully curated (I hate that word, but it actually fits here). It didn’t hurt that said festival took place within some of the most breathtaking surroundings this side of Middle Earth, or that the other attendees offered an enthusiastic welcoming to the stray bumbling American in their midst. Of course I’m talking about Eistnaflug, Iceland’s biggest and most important metal/rock festival. The three-day event (four, including the prefest gig) took place in the heart of Neskaupstaður, a tiny village on east Iceland’s verdant Norðfjörður fjord. The lineup offered a wealth of homegrown acts from all across the rock spectrum; there were a lot of great metal bands, but there were also performances from indie, punk, noise, and even hip hop groups. At the Gates headlined (and blew the roof off the joint) and, on the international side, were joined by Bölzer, Havok, Zatokrev and The Monolith Deathcult.
Given that I was where I was, though, I was less worried about seeing At the Gates and more concerned with checking out the festival’s other offerings (most of the bands seemed to hail from faraway Reykjavik, but “local” is a relative term here). I was thoroughly impressed by the array of Icelandic talent on display, from Ophidian I’s techy death and Godchilla’s gonzo surf sludge to Sólstafir’s trio of triumphant performances. My beloved Angist was of course a massive highlight too, but most of my favorite discoveries took place outside the main venue, in the crumbling disused warehouse/DIY space called the Mayhemisphere that housed the festival’s stranger entrants. There, I met a handful of Iceland’s most interesting black metal practitioners, and was drawn into the collaborative evening of distortion and destruction dubbed the Úlfsmessa – “the Wolf’s Mass.”
Hopefully we’ll be hearing a lot more from Misþyrming now that Fallen Empire and Terratur Possessions have announced an upcoming collaborative release of the band’s debut album. The Reykjavik-based project started out as a one-man endeavor and expanded when founder D.G. added drummer H.R.H. (also of Carpe Noctem) on drums. This move enabled Misþyrming to start playing shows, which led me to encounter them during the Úlfsmessa performance and subsequently fall hard for their sharply melodic yet utterly savage take on black metal orthodoxy. Their blood and ash-smeared live performance sealed the deal, but that intensity transfers brilliantly onto their recordings as well. It’s a win-win, and it doesn’t get much better than this for black metal in 2014.
Check out a sample (including a just-posted new song, “Ég byggði dyr í eyðimörkinni”) from Fallen Empire’s Bandcamp page:
Carpe Noctem are one of the bands I was most interested in seeing after doing some pre-fest research, and they did not disappoint for a moment. I got to see them twice, on the mainstage and within the Mayhemisphere; I will say that the grimy, dark warehouse was better suited for their theatrical and utterly chaotic black/death onslaught, but both sets were stellar. So many of the bands I saw this weekend have such huge potential but are stymied by the hefty financial burden that accompanies any overseas journey, let alone a tour, and Carpe Noctem are one of the bands I think would go down a storm with audiences in Europe and North America if only we could get them here. They are playing a London show with Antinomian and Virophage if you’re in town November 15th, but until I figure out a way to Kickstart some transatlantic plane tickets for ‘em, listen to their excellent new album from their Bandcamp:
NYIÞ (pronounced something like “Neeth”)
These guys are super weird, and I really love everything about them. They periodically appeared throughout the Úlfsmessa to offer chants and blasphemous prayers, moving silently in hooded black robes. NYIÞ play droning, devotional music, narrated by rumbling baritone chants and augmented by well-placed howls and mournful saxophone. It’s similar to doom in its measured, stately tempo and hulking sense of foreboding, but there’s really very little “metal” involved at all in this liturgy for the damned. NYIÞ are ritualistic in the truest sense, and they’re simultaneously unnerving and enthralling to witness live. On record, they’re even trippier. Listen to a few live recordings for yourself. Let us pray…
I missed their Mayhemisphere gig but thankfully was in attendance when the soon-to-be-renamed quartet hit the mainstage. Gone Postal are something of a supergroup by Icelandic terms, (featuring the considerable talents of members of Svartidauði and Ophidian I) but that’s not what sets them apart, especially given how frequently Icelandic black metal bands share members. Though they started out as a death metal band, the new material they were slinging at Egilsbúð that night fell far more under the umbrella of experimental, progressive black/death metal rife with atonal, chaotic touches. It’s not altogether dissimilar from what Svartidauði are doing, though far more atmospheric and melodic. I’m very anxious to hear what they come up with next! For now, listen to live versions of a few older songs here, and keep an eye out for their upcoming new album. I sure will be.
I’m a degenerate and didn’t wake up in time to see AMFJ’s afternoon set, but I’m sorry to have missed it because the songs that creator Aðalsteinn Jörundsson has posted on Bandcamp are giving me shivers. AMFJ dwell within the shadowy world of power electronics, crossing over into industrial noise when the mood strikes. Jörundsson’s harsh meditative loops mesmerize as often as they intimidate; there’s a lot of Skullflower in his sound, and that’s never a bad thing when it comes to this style of anti-music. He’s also involved in the FALK (Fuck Art Let’s Kill) record collective, if you’re in the mood for even more bizarre Icelandic noise. Check out his deconstruction of two songs off Svartidauði’s recent ‘The Synthesis Of Whore And Beast’ EP here. Unsurprisingly, it’s creepy as fuck.
I caught these guys on the main stage at Egilsbúð on a whim, and I’m so glad I did. Malignant Mist play straight-up ignorant slammy death/grind with loads of technical bits, ostentatious sweeps, and the odd pretty proggy section (the kind of band Unique Leader would/should be going nuts for, basically) and it RULED. Their vocalist Ingólfur Ólafsson is in half the death metal bands in Iceland, and for good reason; dude can bellow with the best of them. I’m not usually into this style of death metal, but these dudes went so hard that even I was won over. Readers of Metalsucks, especially the ones that usually hate the stuff I post, I implore you: listen to this band. Stream their latest EP here: