Once upon a time, there were four young boys growing up in Iceland who wanted to be a Rock Band – specifically, a Metal Band. They listened to lots of Kiss, Alice Cooper, and Aerosmith, then later on Metallica, Iron Maiden, and Megadeth, and thought, “Shit, we can do this. We can grow our hair long and get tons of chicks and drink Jack Daniels and go on tour and rock as hard as we can every night. It’s gonna be totally rad.” As fate would have it, these four lads found each other and formed a band – and that band would be called Dimma. On Friday night at Hressó, the Rock Band Called Dimma dared to soar with the eagles of metal above the puny masses below, rocking like a hurricane, daring us to rock and roll all night (and party every day), and never, ever fearing the reaper.
Tightly interwoven guitar and bass-lines blasted out over thunderous drumming as Dimma’s frontman sang operatically over it all while simultaneously perfecting his rock-star pose. Sebastian Bach would have been proud. Sure, I’ve seen this band play a hundred times before in countless dive bars and various shitholes across the United States, but this is the spirit of Rock and Roll and Dimma are living it. Hard and fast. The thing is, this isn’t a novelty act or an ironic experiment for these guys. They take themselves and the Power of Metal seriously, and why not? They rock. Yes, it’s kind of cheesy and over the top, but so is Queen. So is Judas Priest. So is Kanye West.
Whether blazing through intricate pentatonic riffs or settling down for some power-ballad cosy time, Dimma did their utmost to whip the crowd into a frenzy. And it worked, and it was kind of awesome (especially when the lyrics sounded like they were about the grim reaper – classic material, never gets old). The sincerity and dedication that Dimma puts into what could arguably be considered to be really stupid-fantasy-poser-hair-metal-butt-rock (by some, not me) is admirable. Once-famous washed-up hair-metal bands like Extreme and Great White and Warrant are now relegated to playing state fairs and tiny clubs, but the men of Dimma are not discouraged and continue to carry the torch. Metal Band Dimma, I salute you.
While Dimma posed for pictures with fans and sold merch at the back of the room, Benny Crespo’s Gang took the stage, and the change of pace could not have been more jarring. The Gang began with a sort of free-jazz intro before launching into a powerful and aggressive set of post-punk and math-rock-influenced rock. They effortlessly blended the melodic with the discordant, utilising chunky bass synths and stabbing guitars while male and female singers traded vocal duties. This band is certainly not trying to be pretty and it’s definitely not trying for easy listening; a welcome change from some of the more adult-contemporary styles that tend to grace the Airwaves stages. Many songs collapsed into a bout of noise somewhere in the middle before the Gang reeled it all back in to continue on its interesting path of sci-fi soundtrack songs with a punk rock spirit. When you think about it, the members of Benny Crespo’s Gang were young once too, dreaming of playing in a rock band and going on tour, just like the men of Dimma. What made each band take such different directions? Only they truly know, but whatever the reason, I was happy to hear both sides of the story.