I’m going to do to you what I did to myself last night, and I hope you get the same charge out of it that I got. It will take more time than it usually takes to zip through our posts here, but even if you choose to stay with me for only part of the journey, I think it will be worthwhile. It starts with Solstafir, it continues with Dimma, and it ends with both of them, in the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a live tag-team performance by two bands.
I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve written about Sólstafir and their brilliant two-disk 2011 album, Svartir Sandir. They’re only a borderline metal band, but the borderland they occupy is a place I go to live in my mind quite often. There’s a song that ends the second disc called “Djákninn”. It’s a jam that’s nearly 11 minutes long, and I get lost in it every time I listen.
Listening is like getting behind the wheel of a car with some muscle under the hood, starting from a standing stillness and patiently shifting through the gears as it builds speed on an a climbing open road with some curves ahead. You hear the engine begin to purr, and as the throttle opens up in stages, it begins to roar, and then you’re really cruising like there’s no tomorrow, with the wind rushing through the open windows under a blue sky with not another care in the world.
At the beginning, the song has a melancholy air in the atmosphere, as so much of this band’s songs do. By the end, you just want to bang your head and smile. And the long instrumental jam that consumes most of the song’s back end is like hitting that sweet high gear, and the long guitar solo/lead is something I don’t want to stop, even though I know, every damned time, it’s going to burn out, and that muscle car is going to coast until it’s still once more.
“Djákninn”[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Disc-2-06-Djákninn.mp3|titles=Solstafir – Djákninn]
And next . . .
This is another band from Iceland. They’re even less metal than Sólstafir. I didn’t know they existed until yesterday, when I saw the tag-team extravaganza that’s going to end this post. But after that I got curious, and I found them on Facebook and played the first song I found on their BandPage — a song called “Þungur Kross”. It hooked me pretty fast.
The song is apparently the first one this band has recorded in the Icelandic language, the rest of their repertoire being sung in English. It appears on a late 2011 EP called Dogma, which is composed mainly of live recordings of previously released songs and a cover of “Halo of Flies” by Alice Cooper. But “Þungur Kross” is new, and the EP also includes an English version of the same song called “Crucifixion”.
The EP is sort of a staging ground for the launch of the band’s next album, which is due in the May/June time frame this year. Based on this song, I’ll be tempted to find that album when it comes. Coincidentally, the melody in this song is reminiscent of the early, slow part of “Djákninn”: it carries a similar dark undercurrent (it is about that crucifixion, after all). The singing is clean, but Stefán Jakobsson has a good voice with a bit of grit in it, and he can hit the high notes, and when he does it gives the song a power metal flavor.
“Þungur Kross”[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Dimma-DOGMA-EP-7-Þungur-Kross-.mp3|titles=Dimma – Þungur Kross]
THE TAG TEAM
All of what you just read was a prelude to what really launched this post. So, you see, the post is backwards, because what you’re about to see last is what I saw first.
Recently Sólstafir and Dimma completed a short tour of Iceland together. On the last performance of the last stop not long ago, Sólstafir played that song “Djákninn”. And as the song hits that open-cruising speed, the members of Dimma come on stage one-by-one and replace almost all the members of Sólstafir at their instruments — I mean, they take their instruments — hardly without missing a beat in the music. And by the time the song ends, it’s Dimma finishing it.
It’s kind of funny at first when three different guys are playing the drums at once, but I thought it was very cool by the time it ended. And shit, the song is so fucken good. What I wouldn’t give to see this with close-ups and multiple camera angles.