Reykjavik Grapevine: Live review: Eistnaflug – Full Metal Racket!

13 Aug

So at last, the live reviews from the Eistnaflug metal festival are up and running online. GO AND CHECK THEM OUT! Then leave comments about how crap it is! Go on, do it! My ego feeds off the bile and hatred!

Not much more to add to this as i’ve already posted stuff about it. My entry got cut up a little bit due to size ( at least i hope that was the reason!). If you want, you can read the unabridged version version below. But make sure you check it out online for entries by Bogi (Friday) and Ragnar (Saturday).

Eistnaflug – Thursday

Who played: Dánarbeð, Manslaughter, Hamferð, Dimma, Carpe Noctem, Innvortis, Atrum, Alice in Chains Tribute Band, S.H. Draumur, Sólstafir, Secrets of the Moon

Thursday dawned upon us with intense cold and dragons breath. Last year was a bit chilly, but man this year took the biscuit, almost as if God himself scooped up Neskaupstaður and showed it into the back of his freezer next to the 3 year old bag of frozen peas. Surveying the gulag campsite as everyone nursed their hangovers, huddled around little BBQ grills for warmth, everyone was in need of fireworks and searing metal heat.

Shame it didn’t really kick off with festival openers Dánarbeð. A bunch of kids from Akureyri, they played what one friend described as ‘the sound you get when you try to recreate a demo of a Swedish death metal band from 1992.’ Fair enough, but they were a bit all over the place. The drumming struggled to keep up with the pace, the singer’s guitar solos were rudimentary, and there wasn’t that much stage presence to speak of. This is going to be a long day, and I’d only just started drinking.

Thankfully spirits were raised significantly with the arrival of Manslaughter and some decent moshing to bring out my inner bastard. Or rather lonely bastard, as once again I find myself in the lonely position of a moshpit of one.  And this is a shame as Manslaughter were shockingly fast, brimming with violent energy and, surprisingly, very funny. Their song ‘Eistnaflugslagið’ sums what’s so great about the festival in under 2 minutes. Cheers lads.

Unfortunately due to my exertions, and the fact that this reviewer has a BMI of a pork scratching, I suffer a bad wardrobe malfunction and spent all of Hamferð’s set in a bar across the road while I sewed up my shorts. And here’s a tip – If you suffer a busted button problem, then get help from the fine people of Mammút. Not only do they rock, but they always keep a sewing kit on hand for any eventuality!

After a beer and a couple of shots I ventured back to take in the performance from Dimma, but I really wished I hadn’t. Their ‘90s hard alt-rock sound was bland enough, but their stage presence was the most preposterous I’ve seen from an Icelandic rock band since… well, ever! Like the “serious” band from the film ‘School Of Rock’, their cock rock antics were so full-on I could feel the tangy manfat from their mighty metal wangers at the back of my throat.  It made Magni Ásgeirsson look like Black Flag. I eventually gave up after a few songs and stepped outside to stare into the middle distance for 20 minutes.

At least my psyche is soothed a little when I come in to see what Carpe Noctem was up to. Despite being slightly non-plussed with their take on black metal, it was certainly 100% better than what just came on before. They all looked like fetid zombies with smudged corpsepaint and great big spikes coming out of their arms. Hmmm perhaps things are finally starting to look up.

Having seen Innvortis a few times, I can understand why they’re popular (especially with the people pogoing in the crowd that they commanded), but their folk tinged punk doesn’t do it for me personally, so I decided to meet a few friends outside for some male bonding and imbibing of Brennivín. When I return, Atrum are already playing. Their sound is harsh, intense and probably the tightest of the local death/ black metal bands this evening.  And the lead singer with his lovely Adam Ant corpsepaint and pouty lips looked rather cute and handsome. But do I want cute in my extreme metal? Conveying this to a friend, I was simply told to stop being such a dick and just appreciate their sound. So that was me told then.

But enough of the boy band metal; it’s time for the real stars of Eistnaflug! Oh wait, that actually came later, but first the Alice In Chains tribute band. Now admittedly these guys had been cast as the whipping boys of the festival this year (‘Why?’ was the word that often followed their name among the punters), and truth be told, I’m not a big AIC fan either, so I watched their rendition of ‘Bones’ and then, assured that I fulfilled my contractual reviewing obligations, went straight to the bar. But imagine my surprise when I came back 30 minutes later to find not only were they still playing, they had a big crowd and everyone was singing along to the tunes! God damn these metal fans are fickle. But I doff my cap to AICTB, they were going for it big guns and their sheer bloody minded presence won the crowd over.

After all the slightly downer moodiness, we need some proper fashioned bopping and who better to do this than S.H. Draumur eh? To be honest, if you had told me a couple of years ago that Dr Gunni would play at Eistnaflug I would have given you a slap for trying to take the piss. But there he was, with fellow bandmates Steini and Birgir wringing every ounce of energy from their post-punk sound. And there we were jumping up and down at the front like total fools.

I grab a spot by the mixing desk to take in the set from Sólstafir. And my giddy aunt, they were absolutely mindblowingly awesome. After their so-so performance at last year’s Eistnaflug, this year saw a completely different approach and attitude. I daresay those of us lucky enough to witness the nights show were seeing a bands chrysalis moment as they transcended from local metal legends to international rock gods. Playing a mix of new material and stuff from their ‘Köld’ Album, each track felt pounding and supercharged, and they went back to their classic blood red light show after last year’s white arc lights and dry ice debacle. It was truly music to lose yourself in. By far the best band of the night.

I, like many other people, ventured outside straight afterwards to drink and go ‘woah, dude’ and ‘man, that was immense!’ In fact so many people left after Sólstafir that Secrets Of The Moon ended up playing to a venue that was only two thirds full. Talk about stealing another person’s thunder! And to be fair to SOTM, they gave it a really good go with their rumbling take on death metal. But alas everyone’s thoughts were still on the previous act and getting totally wasted.

As the night wound down, I ventured over to the Mayhemisphere for some after hours drinks, played with Krummi the black metal dog, lost my wallet, acquired the use of power tools and somehow managed to get to my bed at 5am. Remember kids, Eistnaflug is a marathon AND a sprint.

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Posted by on August 13, 2011 in Iceland, literature, live music


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