Sunday, August 26, 2012
If you think about ham, you don’t expect to get an Icelandic rock band on your plate. Yet HAM (Happy, Angry, Mad) is a well known phenomenon on the Icelandic music soil since 1988. Björk is a huge fan of this cult band with a solid fan base in their home country. Several times HAM was the supporting act for The Sugarcubes in the United States (1988). In 1989 the album "Buffalo Virgin" was released on One Little Indian, the successor of the controversial album "Hold". In 2011, then came a full-fledged sequel with the title "Svik, Harmur og Dauði" (Betrayal, Sorrow and Death). In the meantime there were several live albums released. HAM claims to play no metal and is most comparable with Rammstein. Only these Icelanders were a decade earlier than the Germans, with their bulldozer sound with gothic influences; Rammstein avant la lettre. This guitar workmen create a wall of sound, complemented by the shrill sound of singer Ottarr Proppé and the deep voice of singer-guitarist Sigurjon Kjartansson. Best tracks on the album are: "Dauð Hora" (dead prostitute), "Alcoholismus chronicus," "Gamlir Svikamenn Á Ferd" (old betrayers on the road) and "Ingimar".
In Iceland it is also back to the 80’s with the electrosynth-goth-doom-pop duo LEGEND. Krummi "let's get a tattoo" Björgvinsson, the frontman of post-hardcore band Minus, and keyboard player Halldór Bjornsson form the group. The band, named after the Ridley Scott film (1985), produced their first album "Fearless" (april 2012). The 2 friends share a passion for the music of Depeche Mode, Bauhaus, Ministry and Throbbing Gristle. Krummi is the son of pop legend Bo (Björgvin) Halldórsson. Krummi and Halldór are as well members of the country band Esja. Krummi's sister is a singer of the band residing in the States Steed Lord. Another Icelandic musical family ... In 3 years time the duo wrote 10 songs. Song numero uno "Amazon War" begins with a doom-goth tune. Track 2 "Benjamite Bloodline" is based on an electronic body music beat. Number 3 "City" on the album made me immediately think of a meeting of Billy Idol with the Pet Shop Boys. Number four and five bath more in a Depeche Mode atmosphere, when Dave Gahan decided to make his skin a tattoo art landscape. The other songs are echoing tributes to their idols. This album is not original, it dabbles in the rich tradition of 80's new wave and dark wave, but LEGEND does so with aplomb.
Sudden Weather Change is a rock band consisting of students from the art academy. They started as a 11-piece noise band which then transformed to the classical 5-in-a-band. About a year ago Benjamin M. Stacey left the group. So the quartet worked diligently to a successor of the debut album with the impossible title "Stop! Hand Grenade in the Name of Crib-Death 'more about? "(Kimi Records, 2009). Before this 1st disc they released a home-made EP (2006), followed by a mini-Tour de France. Three years ago they were already named one of the most promising Icelandic artists. With the support of producers Ben Frost, Icelandic famous Aussie, and Þorbjörn G. Kólbrúnarsson, they created a "Sculpture". This sculpture was by the band released late July 2012. Location for the shooting were the Greenhouse Studios of renowned Valgeir Sigurdsson, a Bjork protégé. This second full release sounds completely different than their previous work. In the old days the group was often compared to Pavement and Sonic Youth. The new album has a bit of a concept album: it invites you to listen to the whole album in one take, because the 9 songs almost blend into one another. The guitars, drums and vocals make this sculpture more polished than the grenade, and the harmonies are now at their best. However, it remains fortunately many sharp edges. All songs are fantastic, cinematic Ennio Morricone-like intros, often supplemented with creepy noises. I hear clear similarities with the third album by the group Reykjavik!, "Locust Sounds". And last but not least it is a good live band.