Update: album release pushed back to October 23rd, 2020
There are shows you wish you could have been at, and often you don’t find out about them until after the date – or they’re just too far away. Skálmöld’s three-dates run at the Gamla Bíó, Reykjavík falls into both categories so I was very excited when I heard about the album. I’ve caught the band live once before and they’re very much on my “to see again” list, so I was hoping this release would tide me over.
Covering their entire back-catalogue, it doesn’t do a bad job at all. Skálmöld are a band whose albums all contain enough good material to be a “best of” in their individual rights, so picking a sample to fill a live set must be a nightmare… But they chose well for these shows. The full tracklist is at the end of this review so you can see how they’ve tried to shoehorn a bit of everything into the package.
I mean, where to begin? If you like the band then you’ll like the tracks presented. If you’ve not encountered them then this is as impressive a debut listen you could hope for. The songs range from the choral to the epic to the blasting to the emotive. And pretty much everywhere in between. Production has been nailed, with plenty of crowd sounds not justy between tracks but during them, and the vocals (Skálmöld’s strength for me) are spot on.
I don’t think there’s another band at this end of the metal scale that manages a six-part harmony the way these guys do, and the recording captures it on several occasions. While Björgvin Sigurðsson’s growls would do any band proud, it’s where the other five members back him up and just take a song onto another level that blows me away every time.
So hop onto the longboat and start researching your Icelandic mythology so that you can really appreciate the music. And keep your eyes open for live dates. Viruses allowing, they’re touring Europe early in 2021 and I really hope they make it over here again. Given the standard of the music on this album, their live show has only improved since I saw them some years ago!
- Að hausti
- Með fuglum
- Að vetri
- Með jötnum
Header image by Gupbi Hanneson
10 Year Anniversary Live In Reykjavík is out on October 16th