How things have changed. In April 2010 I wrote a THAT’S METAL! post mainly for the purpose of displaying photos of the magnificent eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull (ay-yah-FYAH’-plah-yer-kuh-duhl) volcano, which you may recall wrecked havoc on air transportation as far away as the UK and the European continent. But because this is a metal blog, I thought I ought to find some Icelandic metal as musical accompaniment for the rad pics.
I hunted and hunted across the interhole as it then existed, and I remember I didn’t find much. Of what I found, the best music was by a band called Changer, so I went with that. I’m sure there were many more Icelandic metal bands creating music back then than I was able to find, but it still struck me that the scene had a pretty low profile internationally.
It’s certainly much easier today to find music by a broad array of excellent Icelandic bands, and two of them in particular have become favorites at NCS — Atrum and Sólstafir. Hell, just last weekend I discovered another one — Severed Crotch (discussed in this post). Over the last few days I’ve been exploring two other Icelandic bands whose music is even more extreme than what I’ve heard from Iceland previously. Theirs is the kind of black/death metal that invokes the word “ritual” when performed live, or the term “apocalyptic metal”, or perhaps the phrase “death worship”. For English speakers, their names are also not nearly as easy to pronounce as those other bands’: Svartidauði and Vansköpun.
Svartidauði’s name means “Black Death”. That weird letter near the end is an “eth”, with a “th” sound. Between 2006 and 2010 they produced three demos and they contributed a song to a split in January 2012 with a Chilean band called Perdition (the eye-catching artwork for that split is up above), which was released by a German black metal label called the World Terror Committee. They are now planning for the release of an album under the name Flesh Cathedral, which will be distributed in Europe by Terratvr Possessions and in the U.S. by Daemon Worship Productions. The artwork for that monstrosity is right after the jump.
So far, here’s what I’ve heard by Svartidauði:
1. “The Perpetual Nothing” — a song from the new album that was put up for streaming a few days ago and, courtesy of Terratvr Productions, can be downloaded for free here. It appears to be a re-recording of a track from one of the previous demos.
2. “Flesh Cathedral” — a song from their 2010 demo, Those Who Crawl and Slither. Based on its name, I’m guessing a version of it will also appear on the new album.
3. “Sepulchral Stones” and “The Temple of Deformation” — these songs were originally included on the Temple of Deformation tape that the band recorded in 2006.
I’ll stream all four of these songs below (the last two are combined in a performance video). But first, a few words of preparation:
The music is scorching and weighted with black power. It’s a furious red-eyed assault on the senses, the guitars a razor-edged whirlwind of violent noise, and the vocalist roaring like a demon bear whose jugular has just been opened by a serrated blade. The bass and drums are especially riveting to hear. They’re distinctly audible and they’re played with blazing speed and with unusual creativity, especially given the overarching merciless strategy of the music. They’re also bone-cracking in their sonic power.
Creeping in here and there are buzzing lines of black melody that enhance the music’s fascination, and changes in rhythm and speed prevent the songs from becoming an unformed, unrelenting deluge of chaos. I also have to mention the distorted chimes of the guitar in the intro of “Flesh Cathedral”: it’s really fucking cool, and it returns again as the song progresses.
As a soul-wrecking celebration of black death, the music of Svartidauði will drive a spike deep in your skull. I want Flesh Cathedral, and soon. I haven’t seen a release date for it yet. I suspect the best way to find out is to follow Svartidauði on Facebook (here).
“The Perpetual Nothing”[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/02-The-Perpetual-Nothing.mp3|titles=Svartidaudi – The Perpetual Nothing]
“Sepulchral Stones” and “The Temple of Deformation”
Vansköpun appear to be a relatively new band. A UK label named Barghest released their three-song, 19-minute, debut EP Alsæla Gegnum Endurfæðingu on tape last November (the EP’s title apparently means “Ecstasy Through Reincarnation”). Yes, it appears people do still distribute music on tape! The EP can also be streamed and downloaded for free via Vansköpun’s Bandcamp page (here).
The music creates a suffocating atmosphere of black doom — sludgy, distorted, sometimes ponderous in its pacing, and crafted around bleak melodies. Interestingly, as in the case of Svartidauði, the bass often plays a prominent role in the music, and there’s some interesting black-prog guitar noise to accompany the skittering tremolo melody in the EP’s long second track, which is my favorite. The title track is also quite dynamic, with dramatic changes in pace and intensity and more of that creative guitar dissonance.
This really is a very good EP and puts Vansköpun on the radar as a black metal band to watch. Here’s a stream of the EP: