Sigur Rós – “Kveikur” Album Review
Renowned for their ambient and lyrical albums, Sigur Ros have never really been a dramatic band. You only need to listen to tracks like Vio Spilum Endalaust to realise that they were a band that enjoyed pleasantries like brass fanfares and jovial folk tuns. But something happened- perhaps the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull (that Icelandic volcano that brought the northern hemisphere to a standstill) had a profound effect on their attitude or maybe they started channelling their inner Nord. Either way Sigur Ros have created something powerful, intense and slightly ominous, a world a way from what anyone could have expected.
You only need to look at the eerie album cover of Kveikur to realise that a transformation has occurred. The extent of which is immediately conveyed by the static and distortion of the opening track and debut single Brennisteinn (Icelandic for brimstone) which erupts in dramatic percussion while Birgisson’s ethereal vocals dance lightly above the ensuing chaos. Their departure from the merry and fanciful to this darker genre was a bold step but executed excellently. Full of energy and charisma, Brennisteinn epitomises the success and merits of the album as a whole. Tracks like Isjaki also reflect this perfect marriage of Sigur Ros‘ melodic prowess and teir new found inspiration. Bells chime above distorted guitar and thunderous drums with empyrean grace, Kveikur is not just a new album but a landmark in the development of the band as a whole.
The continued use and mix of Icelandic and Vonlenska by the band adds an enigmatic charm and a sense of mystery to the songs. The evocative vocals on Stormur and Kveikur paint a dramatic and sublime image, Birgisson’s exciting and unusual syllabic inflection is a welcome departure from the dull and unadventurous styles of contemporary vocalists. Tracks like Bláþráður and Var are reminiscent of their earlier material, their emotive and slower melodies adding variety and calm to an album that revolves around intensity and drama.
Sigur Ros have successfully planted their mark on the 2013 music scene, Kveikur being one of the most exciting releases of this year for good reason. The energy and fervour is testament to the band’s creative ingenuity. We will be covering their performance at Rock Werchter festival on 4th July which, if Kveikur and their other live shows are anything to go by, will be a spectacular show. Coverage will be up after the festival.
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