My first encounter with this young Icelandic rock outfit was supporting Grand Magus in spring 2014 where I caught their last song and was immediately blown away by their energy and vibrancy. With two releases under their belts and their second getting the Nuclear Blast marketing treatment the trio from Iceland has been propelled forward in popularity with multiple live appearances. Formed when Óskar Logi was only 11 years old the band drafted Guðjón and Alexander into their ranks and the trio was complete. Contrary to what people may thing playing as trio is no easy task as there is total reliance on everyone being perfect during live shows as mistakes can be easily detected. With live shows now aplenty for the band relocation to Denmark made perfect sense especially for the European tour circuit which is enormous. With their third release now due upon us, it gives fans and potential newer devotees a chance to see what they have learnt and how they have progressed. Progression is an understatement as I absolutely adore “Voyage” their second effort and if anything the band has surpassed that release vastly and with utmost self-assurance. With a hunger and desire to stake a claim on the rock scene the band has pooled their experience to release a phenomenally brilliant and challenging third album.
“Arrival” is a colossal album and probably their most important as the world’s media casts a critical eye over their evolution and creativity. Said cynical media types will be awestruck as I am with this fabulous album that I pre-ordered on purple vinyl straight after I listened to it the first time. The ability to craft dignified tunes that can raise adrenaline and pull the heart strings is not easy but these guys live and breathe the 1970s. Opening the album is “Last Day Of Light” a six minute plus tune that is ambitious and proves that the band is exuding oceans of self-belief. A percussive piece introduces the song with billowing bass providing the backdrop for the guitar melody to dance upon, before bursting in with rousing rock structure that also boasts some keyboards as well. Breaking for a magnificent riff and followed by a sleazy beat and velvety vocal delivery the song sets the stall for this album immediately. With a psychedelic swathe blanketing the release “Monolith” is a pounding beast with a fabulous infectious melody. Parts of this album reminded me of the rock giants of the 70s like UFO, Uriah Heep, Scorpions and of course Deep Purple and finding your own identity away from such seminal outfits is extremely difficult but this band has done it, uniquely identifiable the snare roll that starts “Babylon” was familiar and possibly played on the recent live jaunts I’ve caught the band. The vibe is immense, a permeating resonance piercing the soul the song is amazingly catchy with fluid like crests and troughs of emotion. Trippy and psychedelic as mentioned “Shaken Beliefs” has a feel of bands like Montrose, Bad Company and maybe even a little Focus due to the weaving nature of the songs path. “Crazy Horses” is what you would expect and has a substantial riff that will engrave onto your brain immediately as the guitar tone reminded me of Deep Purple in the early 70s but before “Burn”.
“Sandwalker” is a slab of pure rock bullion with a riff like old Motorhead only a tad softer on the tone, it possess a fantastic lead, a facet of this album that is irrefutably skilled and wondrous to hear. The softer start of “Innerverse” is very like UFO, dulcet guitar hooks and beautifully played drums the tune reeks of sheer superiority and gives Óskar a chance to unveil his incredible voice which is smoky, yet exquisitely clear as a detection of old Scorpions can be heard by my wizened ears. Building sequentially the tune adds components that go almost unnoticed such as harmonised vocals and of course some more keyboards as the tune breaks for a gorgeous guitar break and amazing guitar hook that follows and as epic as any 70s tune of a similar nature. Closing the album is the contrasting duo of “Carousel” with its ballsy approach and swagger the tune is rife with nostalgia compared to the almost nine minute closer “Winter Queen”. Opening quickly the guitar is backed by a soft keyboard passage and escalates like a retro epic when it breaks for a very soft guitar melody. Distant vocals drift as though carried by the wind, allowing the bass to pulse with the elevating drums. The tune is mesmerising, possessing a gratifying style that was once common place in rock music, the entangling arrangements create a sonic tapestry. Like a work of art this album is priceless and I expect these young rockers to reach dizzying heights of popularity so check them out whilst still on the club circuit or as support as I guarantee you will not be disappointed. Is this album worth a ten, yes but with such creative energy I’ll hold off on that with a half point as I expect greater things from this tremendous Icelandic band.
(9.5/10 Martin Harris)