It feels like a milestone has been reached. With the completion of the fifth edition of the Faroese Wacken Metal Battle, we’ve seen the various dynamics of a small scene that somehow manages to reproduce itself rather well in a detached location with a small population. Ok, so there’s not hundreds of bands, but in actuality that might be a good thing. A wide range of genres are being presented, some more unique than others, and while gigs may be sporadic and quite limited, it appears that the flame lit by the old guard is being carried forward.
Two significant changes were made for this year’s metal battle. Firstly, fewer bands were featured, going from eleven down to five, which immediately made the whole event more favorable. Secondly, moving the event back into Sjónleikarahúsið, the old theater house in Tórshavn, was a crafty move, it’s where the event initially fired up a rejuvination in Faroese metal back in 2012. With an audience reaching around two-hundred people, it was not highest attendance of all the battles. Nevertheless, the atmosphere in the venue, as well as backstage, had a celebratory charm. The friendly manners of the crew, the often hilarious banter between the various band members of the participating bands, and just general good vibe all around, would be able to warm the blackest of hearts.
The diversity and quality of the bands are by now at a high standard in my opinion. The black’n’roll debut of Necrolepsia, sporting more than a few Khold’ish salutes, set the bar high as opening performance. The style might not be that inventive but the groove was toxic and has been in the making for several years. The melodic and anthemic metal of Bragdarlogi had people turning on their cigarette-lighters every now and then before okkvlt art-metallers took the stage and turned it into an insane act of purification. The last mentioned band, recently released their first proper song, titled “Andromedan”, which has garnered much positive response.
The Wacken Metal Battle Føroyar is a showcase and competition. Sure, it’s also a gathering of the scene but it’s main purpose has been in creating a window of opportunity for bands to start building something, that ultimately can carry itself to the far corners of the world. The key components here lie in the chance to go to Wacken Festival and perform in front of thousands of people, and getting tastemakers, journalists and booking agents from the music industry to act as critical input at the preliminary round in Tórshavn. This enforces discipline on the bands, which is good and crucial. Speaking for myself, I can definitely see progress in the interaction between band members and these “specialist” since the metal battle’s inception. Ideas are exchanges, stories are told, information is shared face to face, it’s an important aspect to weave your network.
Things need not be serious all the time though. Looking at Goresquad this evening reminded me of how unadulterated death metal can be yet still be appreciated for what it is. To hell with being original, somtimes you just need to get the aggression out in an uncomplicated and fun manner. The new tracks sounded killer btw. The wild thrash-hearts in Asyllex have found the right mix of passion, musicality and entertainment, which ultimately made them winners when all was said and done. There’s this untamed attitude around them, which is translated right into their live performances, it’s downright savage. Headlining this year’s metal battle and victor of 2016, Svartmálm, have commenced their international crossing, having played more shows outside of the Faroe Islands, barely a year after formation. The interest is increasing and it doesn’t not take a whole lot of brain to figure out why, once you’ve gotten a glimpse of the ceremonial rapture the band projects from the crimson radiating stage.
The continuation of the metal battle, and also the growth of the scene, as far as live events goes, comes from the ongoing work of Upp Við Hornunum (Horns Up!), a small interest group sworn to promote Faroese metal. Having organized the metal battle since 2013 and hosting a variety of events in different venues, U.V.H. has a definite role in the development of the Faroese metal scene, having even managed to land a few band-slots at Iceland’s Eistnaflug festival.
Føroyskt black metal is spawned alongside with the well-documented okkvlt art-metal frenzy from Iron Lungs, both spearheading the originality factor. Then you have the traditional sounding bands like Goresquad, Asyllex, Necrolepsia and anthemic fledglings Bragdarlogi, sharpening their individual metallic formulaes. Other bands like Konqueror and Hamradun are also on the prowl with new material being forged. Týr and Hamferð are ready to take new international steps. There’s a lot happening! Bands might have come and gone, I do miss Earth Divide and sheer energy that I get from a SIC show, and where’s that Incurse album for fuck’s sake. I digress. Ultimately, I feel confident that the scene does not have to fear the reaper just yet! Onwards and upwards with our Faroese metal!
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