Grapevine Airwaves 2011

October 16, 2011

Crack Sounds

Muck by Hvalreki

Music Overview

  • Artists: Gunslinger, Angist, Hamferð, Muck, Swords of chaos, Liturgy, Momentum, Wistaria
  • Venue:  Amsterdam
  • Time:  Saturday
  • The Good:  All of the bands brought their A game that night
  • The Bad:  The sound guy should have brought said A game too, and left the crack in Mannheim. But he didn't
  • Reviewed by: Aðalsteinn Jörundsson

It is pretty safe to say that Gunslinger is probably the most interesting thing to ever come out of Egilsstaðir. But they might also be the most interesting band in Icelandic hard-core. Their music consists of fantastically arranged blend of brutal, technical hardcore with some harmonized vocals and pretty smart noise-scapes on pedals (or playback, or both). And they performed the hell out of that gig. They announced on stage that they’ve just released a CD. I advice you to track them down and buy that CD. Buy it to death!

Angist get me nostalgic. They play pretty much by the early death-metal numbers and the singer even sounds a bit like Chuck Schuldiner, but with enough smart songwriting and fresh riffage to prevent me from rolling my eyes. They’re technical but not too much so the songs flow easily through. I do feel though that they’re still missing some sort of an edge. They’re music is well done and mostly enjoyable but I feel, with their level of musicianship, they should be more comfortable with taking risks.

At this point in the review I wanna take a moment to talk about the sound guy. Maybe it’s just as well that I don’t know his name, ’cause in Iceland journalists get sued for telling the truth and the truth here is that he is responsible for a lot of blatant fuck ups at Amsterdam that night. When Hamferð from Faroe Islands took the stage I at first thought he was redeeming him self, as they sounded wonderful. That’s when I saw that they had brought their own sound guy.

I was for some strange reason sceptical about Hamferð at first. Not sure why, I was somehow underwhelmed by the singer but I quickly realized he was just getting warmed up and he proceeded to deliver goth-operatic drama vocals naturally transitioning to both full blown guttural growls and high pitch screams. The man has some pipes. I’ll give him that. And he was well accompanied by the band, similarly diverse between ’80s goth rock, with heroic stoner licks and straight forward black metal (on occasion). All arranged to perfection. After the set I heard a voice in the rubble describing them as a fully developed band. Which might very well be the case since I can’t see any room for any improvement here. I bet they do, they’re the kind of band that needs everything to be perfect, but not me and that’s what matters here.

And then the sound guy came back from his crack smoking break and Muck took the stage.

A refreshing band they are. They have about them an air of gleeful eagerness to destroy. They play loud fast paced and pissed off hardcore that is not joking. They really do wanna kill you and then keep stomping on your face. The crackwhore behind the mixing table did his best to ruin the gig by putting the bass in the front, the guitars in the back and the PA kept crackling up. But they just didn’t give a shit and soldiered on. Eventually the sound got a little bit better and in the end they killed it.

I’ve always loved Swords of Chaos. They’re so accomplished. If you sit down and listen to a song you’ll discover an underlying complexity in their composition that you don’t necessarily get when seeing them live. specially in such poor sound quality. But what ever the sound, you feel compelled to thrash out in the pit and just bathe in the culminated genius of there bone crushing riffage.

By the time Liturgy took the stage rumours had been going around that the sound guy just received a bag of prime Mannheim crack rocks. As was showing in how the ascending vocal overdubbing loop intro was destroyed at the worst possible moment. So their gig started with a wave of anticlimax and a meaningful hurt look across the room from the singer saying: “Seriously dude? Is this how you’re playing me?” They got through the set though with flying colours. My favorite is the drummer who leads the band like a champ. I’ve been listening to their albums and they confuse me just as much as I admire them. That’s sometimes a good thing sometimes not. But high pitched guitars over top such imaginative and tumbling drum work creates a certain kind of coldness flavour in their sound. I do feel though the singing style is kinda monotonous.

Momentum was an experience. Their songs are landscapes and the riffs are the natural disasters. The set was flawless and the sound guy had stumbled on something good. By the end I was singing Hold Back with the rest of them.

Wistaria too. I’m always impressed with them. Adventures guitar leads and solos. HC/emo style vocals innovative drums. It’s all there. They seriously bring the ruckus every time I see them live and this was no exception.



About the Author

Aðalsteinn Jörundsson





3 Comments


  1. Anders

    hands down the worst sounding airwaves festival ever


  2. Ragnar

    MANNHEIM!!!


  3. Christopher Czechowicz

    Underrated writer this guy is



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