Posts Tagged ‘Iceland’

Vofa - Vofa

Vofa is the work of Icelandic musicians that have contributed to the underground scene there throughout many genres; black metal, hardcore, death metal, electronica, and this is their exploration of the bleaker side of life. This is funeral doom soundscapes at their most evocative, and is out now through Funere Records.

Split into three tracks, ‘Vofa’ is an encapsulation of the grim cold of their homeland. ‘I’ builds with evocative clean guitar; glacial melodies weaving within a deep gloom before distortion and a titanic growl appears to shatter the illusion. There is a little bit of a trad doom swagger that starts to appear towards the end of the first track, which is unusual in proper funereal doom, but I like it. There is a wretched misery about each track, ‘II’ oozes from your speakers like a malignant growth ready to swallow the ground you walk on. The vocal interplay here between a raspy growl and mournful clean vocals is excellent, and it brings a much heavier crunch to it. ‘III’ brings forth a sludgey doom to it, giving us a nihilistic swampy feel to it.

‘Vofa’ is an album that paints with a dark palette; shrouding guitar in weeping mist and then building a deep heaviness to the fore by the end. An intoxicating mix of glacial calm and soul crushing brutality that should appeal to most. Rumbling magnificence.

Niðafjöll - Endir

Iceland is a country that I don’t really know any bands from, other than Solstafir and Sigur Ros, and that’s why Niðafjöll are such a pleasant surprise. Thier debut record, ‘Endir’, is a sweeping take on symphonic black metal, and replete with folk elements and blackened tales of Norse mythology.

Each song has a haunting quality, as if they were written facing the northern wind and the frozen fjords. The sweeping black grandeur of ‘Jörmungandr’, that twists and writhes like the World Serpent itself, is an early highlight, as slow sections emerge and keyboard elements begin to play more of a role. The gloomy ‘Vébönd Rofin’ is a personal favourite, but there are many good tracks to choose from.

Niðafjöll don’t skimp on the ferocity though, with some sections of white hot black metal that are not bastardized into symphonics, but the best parts are when the folky, pagan side truly emerges and you get pieces like the evocative piano led ‘Andvari’. It has strong, harsh moments as well, and those riffs are a bit ugly in places, as is the groaning ‘Sól Tér Sortnar’. ‘Endir’ is a great, varied record that has its quiet moments, but equally as many moments of molten, flowing black metal.

I’d recommend ‘Endir’ to anyone who likes atmospheric black metal, and appreciates music that doesn’t always stay pigeonholed. Glistening keyboard melodies sit amongst raw tremolo riffs, and it becomes harder and harder to fathom that this is a one man outfit. Superb.


When this young Icelandic band arrived on the classic doom rock scene last year with their high quality debut, ‘Voyage’, I had quiet hopes they’d do well. Signed to Nuclear Blast, and with their new record ‘Arrival’ out now, let’s see if the hype has been worth it.

First of all, that album art is great, if not quite as epic as ‘Voyage’. It truly fits the psychedelic rock trip that the Vintage Caravan take you on. Part rock and roll, part spiralling prog odyssey, all riffs. The groove of ‘Monolith’ or the explorative ‘Eclipsed’ showcase either side of the Caravan’s nature. You can’t help but feel their infectious, bluesy riffs right down to your core. The Kyuss-like melodies that are integral to the catchy ‘Shaken Beliefs’ are simply stunning, and help to show just how far The Vintage Caravan has come since last year.

That’s also not to say that they can’t lay down a heavy riff or two when they want, (feel the earth quake when ‘Crazy Horses’ kicks in) but The Vintage Caravan are not quite as doom as I remember, they’ve definitely moved toward more stoner, psychedelic rock with a deep, Clutch-esque influence to it. There’s a lot of bands doing this kind of music at the moment, but few manage to play with this purity of spirit, with this kind of enthusiasm and quality. The emotional balladry of ‘Innerverse’ and the almost nine minute masterpiece ‘Winter Queen’ serve the world notice that The Vintage Caravan do psychedelic stoner doom rock better than you or anyone else.

Fortid are Icelandic pagan black metallers with a serious idea about dynamics. Their fifth album, entitled ‘9’ is now out on Schwarzdorn Productions and is definitely worth checking out.

Opening track ‘Haufnir’ is a perfect example of how Fortid have got their dynamic range nailed. Ranging from raging, full on black metal violence through softer, emotive passages and almost Neurosian post metal atmospherics, underpinned by a thundering double kick, ‘Haufnir’ is a beautiful piece of modern extreme music. Following the more folk metal ‘Hugur’ and the crushing blitzkrieg of ‘Nornir’, comes the epic ‘Viska’. This is where Fortid go a little bit Emperor to great effect. The sound is vast, melodic but still dark. Fitting in some ethereal chants, a swelling tribal drumbeat with some soaring vocals, Fortid pull some neat tricks out of their bag here, and ‘Viska’ is the amalgamation of their strengths.

‘9’ contains some breathtakingly beautiful moments of pagan inspired black metal. Songs lose nothing of their intensity when the buzzing riffs are replaced by soaring melodies. ‘Leit’ is almost a straightforward version of latter period Enslaved, while the title track pulses with progressive moments, clouds encircling a mountain of metal. ‘Galdur’ entices with frosty melodies, again oozing with Enslavedisms. This is a good thing; Enslaved have always been vastly underpillaged when it comes to black metal copycats! Fortid pay homage, but keep enough of their own identity to avoid accusations of plagiarism.

Closing the album with the sublime double punch of ‘Runir’ and ‘Hof’, Fortid have crafted a simply great record. The songs are all good, well written and executed with tons of variety and style for a band labelled simply as ‘pagan black metal’. There’s so much more to Fortid than that, and you’d be a fool not to check them out.