15-16.3.2012, at Sjónleikarahúsið, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands joined the W:O:A Metal Battle competition for the first time last year, and their local winner, the doom metal band Hamferð, won the entire international competition.
This year’s Faroese edition of the W:O:A Metal Battle was divided into a two-day festival, with eight competing bands but also a headlining act. The Metal Battle was set up yet again in the local theatre called Sjónleikarahúsið (The Actor’s House) in Tórshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands. These 8 bands were to battle for a spot in the finale at Wacken Open Air in Germany.
The organiser for this year’s battle was the newly established non-profit organisation, Upp Við Hornunum (transl. Raise your horns), UVH in short. The brainiacs behind this organisation are familiar faces from last year’s Faroese battle, Fróði Tórálvsson Stenberg and Teitur Egholm Fossaberg. Now they just worked for themselves instead and had set up an even greater crew around them to realize this edition of the battle. UVH was established to support the Faroese metal music and the metal scene.
W:O:A Metal Battle is a band competition founded to promote upcoming and fresh new bands from all over the world to step up to professional arenas. Since 2004 the winners of the local battles have been given “an occasion to play live on the world´s biggest metal festival, Wacken Open Air,” as the organisers put it. This year the local battles are held in 30 countries worldwide, including China, Japan, Russia, Mexico, Brazil and all the Nordic countries (except for Finland and Greenland). The newest members are South Africa and the Caucasian Republics (Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan).
The small, homey but also majestic Faroe Islands are a country consisting of 18 mountainous islands situated between Iceland and Norway in the North Atlantic Ocean. The Faroe Islands have a population of around 49 000 thousand people, of which circa 20 000 are living in the capital region of Tórshavn. According to CIA’s info on the Faroe Islands the climate is the following: mild winters, cool summers; usually overcast; foggy, windy. Most commonly it is foggy and windy, but you can experience all kinds of weather in one single day. It usually is sunny in the early morning at sunrise (unless there is a storm of some kind), and during the day it gets foggy, it might drizzle rain a bit, then some more, and soon it is sunny again, and then foggy … and so it goes. The fresh air surrounds you, and the ocean is never far away. According to CIA there are no natural hazards nor any current environmental issues.
The venue, Sjónleikarahúsið, the old wooden house built in 1926 fitted the required atmosphere and intensity of the event very well – in some opinions it is the very best venue for metal music on the islands. It is situated right next to the most central part of Tórshavn, on Niels Finsens gøta. Havnar Sjónleikarfelag, the local amateur theatre, is located in the idyllic house, so the main use of the building is for theatre plays. It’s not a venue as such, but it can be rented to set up gigs and other events. The venue’s acoustics are good because of the wooden structures, similar to old churches, which were made to host special kinds of music. The windows and walls were trembling under the shredding of the guitars, the slapping of the basses and the drilling of the double bass drums – the house itself became alive underneath our feet, mediating the power of the music to our bodies. The venue also hosted a bar, which was fueled by the beer sponsor Okkara’s beverages and a stand by the local record label TUTL, which was selling CD’s and t-shirts, as well as the event’s own t-shirt.
The judges | Introduction
The invited international judges to the judge’s panel were Teemu Suominen from Metalheim Industries, Finland, Kasper Molin, Livescenen, Denmark and Þorsteinn Kolbeinsson, concert promoter, Iceland. Local judge for this year was Terji Skibenæs, guitarist in Týr and an aspiring tattoo artist at Terji Tattoo.
Teemu Suominen comes from Finland and is no stranger to the Faroese Metal Battle since he was also in the judge’s panel of last year’s event, and he has promised to return ever since. This guy has a lot of experience, working with bands such as Insomnium, Shining, Swallow The Sun and tons more.
Many Faroese Wacken festival-goers may know the name Kasper Molin from the memorable bus trips to the Wacken Open Air festival itself as he´s been coordinating these trips for several years now through Livescenen. Over the last three years he´s been organizing the Danish branch of the Wacken Metal Battle. Also, he´s been arranging tours and concerts for over a decade for numerous bands.
Þorsteinn Kolbeinsson is a concert promoter. He´s been organizing concerts in Iceland since 2003 when Mastodon (US) visited Iceland. Since then, he has hosted gigs with bands such as – Amon Amarth, Týr, Cannibal Corpse, Steelheart, Finntroll, Into Eternity and Pestilence among others. He had started group trips to Wacken for Icelanders back in 2004, and has been arranging the Wacken Metal Battle in Iceland since 2009.
Friday 15 March | The meet & greet
The Friday included a meet & greet event for the judges and the bands earlier during the day where the judges introduced themselves and answered questions from the bands. One representative per band was present. The most discussed topic this year again was what the judges were looking for in a band. The answer was: energetic live shows where the band gives the audience an experience and interacts with it. Also originality, locality and quality were sought after features in a band. A long discussion arose around how to make successful demos and how to stand out of from the crowd – the most precise answer was to get to the point, since the first 10-20 seconds might be the only thing the listener at the record label hears … Terji Skibenæs also required sex appeal, which gave the attendees many good laughs, even if there might be a hint of truth behind that comment. You should be intrigued by the performer(s) on the stage, maybe not entirely by their looks, the surface, but what they invest in their performance and what they bring forth to the audience.
W:O:A Metal Battle Faroe Islands | Live reviews: Friday 15 March
First band on stage were sleaze rockers from the Bible belt, The Happening. With a lead singer, Anselm Højgaard, not afraid to show his dance moves, and a classic hard rock sound, they started the evening just right (NO COMMA) and got the audience going. Still, the music was very predictable, sounding like your average 80’s hair with a twist of Rob Zombie, and they didn’t seem like contenders for first place in the competition. They provided a good show – they even made it rain condoms thrown off stage – and could easily be one of those bands you always want to see live, even though you would never buy their albums.
1. When It’s Over
2. Danger Danger
3. Two Girls And A Hoe
4. Living Isn’t Easy
6. She’s On The Move
Second band up was quite a letdown after a band where the artists actually were good musicians: Tidal Crush had a messy sound, mainly because of the lead-singers total lack of range. His vocals were barely audible at best, but mainly a too low and mumbling. Perhaps the other musicians could have shown their worth, but the music wasn’t impressive and everything drowned under the fact that they just were too inexperienced to seem comfortable on stage. The only thing that kept the show going was the extremely talented drummer, Kim Joensen, who unfortunately couldn’t lift the entire band.
1. Rising Hatred
2. The New Order
3. Place Inside
4. Bruce Lee vs John Wayne
5. Mr. Man
With the next band, the drummer from Tidal Crush got to show off his skills – the melodeath/metalcore heavyweight of Synarchy. Having a lot more experience and a lot more hair, they represent a way more competent part of Faroese metal. You get the full package on stage with impressive musicianship, a great performance and even a lyrical Faroese element, which set them apart from the other bands of Metal Battle this year. Consistent and power-packed they raised the bar that night. (TN)
2. Release The Free
3. Beyond My Wreckage
4. Sært Tú Meg
Reduced to Ash
Luckily Reduced to Ash were just the band to succeed. They were the real surprise of the evening and delivered a consistently amazing set. Their brutal melodeath with a definite distinctiveness, made most of the audience take a step back and really be impressed with the young guys. The only thing lacking was the performance, which mostly reminded me of a 50’s boy band, which was funny enough but didn’t serve the music right. Musically, they performed way beyond expectation and left the crowd wanting for more.
2. Our Cunning Freedom
6. Chain the Soul
W:O:A Metal Battle Faroe Islands | Live reviews: Saturday 16 March
Even with a lack of audience, SIC managed to start the evening out right and at the end they filled the venue up. The semi-iconic lead-singer Mikkjal G. Hansen is definitely the driving force outwardly with a performance that can put most others to shame. Without him the band probably wouldn’t have had quite the same impact, especially since a recent change in line-up meant that this was their first performance with the current members. Still, they gave a brilliant show, and convinced most that they could take the throne as the best metal band in the Faroese Islands.
2. Fighters They Bleed
3. Killing Birth
4. Cold and Black
Despite having at least a year’s experience since they debuted at last year’s Metal Battle, Konqueror didn’t have anything to show on stage. Stiff stances with eyes stuck on the instrument, they didn’t deliver a convincing performance while the music itself was messy and very unimpressive. Given that they were a part of last year’s competition as well one would expect at definite upgrade since they were giving it another go. Vocally there was an improvement with a much more varied growl by lead-singer Dávid Reinert Petersen that definitely helped their overall sound. But not enough to impress.
1. TRT (Third Reich Today)
2. Become War
3. Weeping Wizard
4. Beyond The Flames of Hell
The probably most hyped band of the evening had a lot to prove. Last year’s performance made them instant favorites, and made this year’s show a much anticipated one. It’s hard to measure if all expectations were met, but it was definitely one of the most powerful and intense concerts of the entire Metal Battle. Progressive songwriting with amazingly tight guitars underlined the almost machine like sound of this band that easily could have gotten the first place in the competition.
2. Into The Maelstrom
Last band standing changed my mind about what experience means to a band. Given that they were between 15 and 18 years of age, these guys proved that enough attitude wipes out the need for experience, and they truly gave one of the most entertaining performances overall. One that makes you careless about how technically good they actually were because they were so convincing on every other level. Old school thrash which cemented Suðuroy, their origin, as the thrash island of the Faroes, and really shook things up before the winner was to be announced.
1. Living in a world of my own
3. Scars after war
4. Hour of justice
Local radio journalist, Ragnar A. Jacobsen, who is hosting a Faroese rock/metal show called Ragnarokk on the national radio (Kringvarp Føroya), was acting as the announcer of the event.
The winner of the battle & the dedication of the event
The local representative of the judges, Terji S, was acting as the spokesman on behalf of the judges when the winner was about to be announced. Before this, they all got a chance to grab the microphone and tell their side of this two-day-experience. The judges were yet again giving praise to the quality and variety of the bands in such a small community this year. Also the professionalism of the organisers and the whole crew but also the punctuality of the running order gave reason for appreciation. The audience’s devotion and support for the bands was admired. The judges were waiting for the spirit of the entire event and for all the people taking part in it to be as all-embracing as last year – whoever wins, we all win.
The whole event was dedicated to our friend Rasmus Rasmussen, who passed away earlier this year. In event organiser Fróði Tórálvsson Stenberg’s words: “Last year, on 10. October, we learned the sad news of Rasmus Rasmussen´s passing. Rasmus was a brilliant and explorative musician and had a strong connection with the Metal scene, especially in the nineties. On behalf of the Metal Battle team, we see it fitting and natural that we dedicate this year’s event to his memory and legacy. Rest in peace, dear Rasmus.”
The winner of Wacken Metal Battle Føroyar this year was SIC. They will bring their energetic act to the international W:O:A Battle Finale at Wacken Open Air Festival in August 2013.
Headlining act | Heljareyga
After the winner of the battle of the bands was announced it was time for a short break, and all the people went outside for a quick breath of fresh air before the headlining act was about to take the stage. Last performer of this festival was Heljareyga, the progressive side-project of Týr’s vocalist Heri Joensen. The audience was also clearly there for them, and this was also a long longed encounter for me with the band. They played their debut album in its entirety with galloping rhythms, tapping of the guitars and the base, the all-flowing hair and clean singing in songs like Regnið and Vetrarbreytin. All song lyrics are performed in Faroese. The (band, song and debut album) name Heljareyga means the Eye of Hel(l). A real heljareyga is a phenomenon in nature: they are deep holes in the bedrock through which the surf is pushed on the high tide or in bad weather. The Faroese people have a belief that if you encounter the heljareyga and you can throw all your sorrows in it – I have also done this, and it seems to have worked brilliantly.
W:O:A Winners | SIC – The bloody fighters
Now a bit of insight in the winning band, SIC, and its founding member Eddie Jacobsen’s thoughts through answers to some of my questions. First of all Eddie describes the winner feelings as overwhelming, but also surprising. He had given his winning bet on his favourite band Earth Divide for whom he sees a bright future ahead.
EM: You attended the WMBF13 and your band SIC won the competition this year. Tell a bit about your conception of the event in aftermath?
EJ: I thought the event was very well organized and everything was top professional, from the organizers, the runners, stage crew and just about everyone there worked so well together to make it perfect for all of us. I couldn’t be happier about the two nights.
EM: SIC has been around for a while, and has experienced a bit of hardship during the past couple of years. Can you tell a bit about that?
EJ: We’ve been around for 10 years (with Mikkjal G. Hansen). I started 11 years ago, so it’s been a while, and our last line-up, the one that helped form SIC, existed for 7 years. Gudmar Hansen (bass) and Frans Galán (guitar) decided that it was time for them to leave the band; I guess you can say we grew apart as musicians, but not as friends. I still see them as some of my best friends. They were at our show and it was weird seeing them in the crowd and not on stage, but that’s how it goes.
EM: How do you see SIC’s future now that you won the WMBF13 and you are going to take part in the international final at Wacken Open Air?
EJ: We will see what the future holds for us. We are extremely excited to perform at this year’s Wacken, and we are also writing new material but having said that, it is too early for me to give away any certain facts at this moment, all doors are open.
EM: What is your view of the Faroese metal scene at the moment?
EJ: I think it’s blooming like always, and it is great to see all this new talent emerging. These bands are killer on stage and the music is awesome as well. It is amazing that this tiny country can hold so much talent!
EM: The future of Faroese metal music in your vision …
EJ: It’s always in waves, some years we see 3-6 new bands, other years maybe one, but it’s always there. I think that this Wacken Metal Battle contest is great in so many ways but especially for new and upcoming bands – they get a chance to play on a professional stage where their music is taken seriously, and if this isn’t a kick in the ass to get up and write awesome music, then nothing is. I really think that we’ll keep on seeing new talent rising from these islands, it has always been here, but now the world knows!
Aftermath and one more interview
The Wacken Metal Battle Føroyar 2013 is the biggest metal show in Faroese metal history….this year even bigger than last year! And a greater success too.
Being part of the crew, after cleaning and closing up the venue, we were followed by a starting snowstorm to an afterparty arranged at the local bar Sirkus, an oasis of homeliness in the centre of Tórshavn. After the bar closed our afterparty was followed up by a morning party (morgún ball) amongst dear friends in a very wintery landscape indeed. I got many hugs this very evening; this is a bunch of people, who like to hug a lot … and to play seriously brutal metal.
After returning home I had a conversation with one of the event’s organiser Fróði Tórálvsson Stenberg.
EM: You and your non-profit organisation Upp Við Hornunum (UVH) arranged this year’s WMBF13. Tell a bit about that work and how you came to this task.
FTS: It´s just a natural change and progression. Last year´s setup involved only me and Teitur Fossaberg, and Kristian Blak of Tutl Records functioning as advisor and handling accounting. We didn’t have that much experience in organizing such a big event, and for me personally it was kinda exhausting having to work long days at my day job as well. We got some passionate people to help us, like the people at the Nordic House, the guys at Ljóðtøkni, Tutl, Sirkus and so on, and in the end the event became a smashing success, so in hindsight it was very important that we did it with this setup, otherwise it wouldn’t have been done.
With the success of Hamferð at the finals last year and the scene gaining even more momentum, it became more apparent that we ought to strive more for the scene. For this year’s event, we wanted to have a more structured set up, so we founded Upp Við Hornunum back in September. Given my situation of having to relocate to Hamburg, my participation would have to be limited this time around, so I’ve mostly been doing promotion, stuff that you actually can do from Germany. We knew about this situation when forming UVH, so we had to gather the right people and make some kind of working plan. The core of the crew this year has been Teitur Fossaberg, Marjun Hansen, Lív Zachariassen and Bjarni Nattestad, who have been putting the Metal Battle together. Epic thumbs up to them for showing such dedication! Thanks go out to our sponsors and those that are helping in other ways as well, The Nordic House, Tutl, Ljóðtøkni, Sirkus, Tórshavnar Kommuna, Mentanargrunnurin, Okkara.
EM: What are your feelings about the event in aftermath?
FTS: It was a different experience; I live a hectic life at the moment, so it hasn’t begun to sink in… But I’m happy to see that it went well. Obviously SIC is a worthy band to send to the finals, so I’m happy for the guys. There was this amazing non-competitive atmosphere. Even though it´s a battle the crew gave their everything and our press coverage has increased to another level. I think we’re definitely on the map so to speak. I personally want to thank each and every one for attending or working with this event.
EM: Tell a bit about UVH, what it does and what the purpose of it is.
FTS: Upp Við Hornunum (transl. Raise your Horns) is an old idea that dates back to 2008 if I remember correctly. We wanted something to happen within the scene, so we did a pair of pretty cool underground shows, really low budget and raw, but they were a success because the metalheads showed up. Ask anyone in the scene, and they´ll know. UVH anno 2013 is a non-profit organization striving for progression in the Faroese Metal scene, so the original idea behind it hasn’t changed at all but now we have more structure. It is meant to be seen as a platform working/advising the bands in one form or another. We’re pretty new still, and we’re gonna see how everything goes since it´s only our first year.
EM: Is there something you want to tell the readers especially about Faroese metal music?
FTS: Considering the fact that we’re such a small group of people, there´s actually a lot to offer in the Metal scene. There´s everything from antique to contemporary, and you need both. New bands that are showing promise, are emerging and I think that´s the most important thing. In the nineties, there was a scene also, but it lacked some of the determination that´s present nowadays. Then Týr came along and older bands like SIC and Synarchy started to release albums and tour abroad. It´s like a second coming nowadays with bands like Earth Divide and Hamferð, that in my opinion are paving the way for the new generation of bands. The companionship within the scene is what makes it strong.
EM: The future of Faroese metal music in your vision …
FTS: That’s open to endless interpretation isn’t it? I hope the scene stays strong and the bands forge ahead, playing the music because they love it, otherwise there´s no point. Bands need to sharpen their approach to things like networking, financing and critical thinking. Therein lies a huge restriction in that the Faroe Islands are isolated in the North Atlantic Ocean, so naturally it can be tough to get anywhere if one truly wishes to focus on making it in this industry. One band that has that opportunity is Hamferð who are releasing their first full length later this year and have a professional set up behind them. I’m excited to see how the band will be received on an international market. The competition is vast because there´s such a ridiculous amount of music being made and pitched.
So, stay tuned for a lot more metal coming up from these islands – it is only the beginning.
Text: Eija Mäkivuoti & Turið Nolsøe (live reviews).
Photos & poster: Eija Mäkivuoti
W:O:A Metal Battle |http://www.metal-battle.com
W:O:A Metal Battle Føroyar | http://www.facebook.com/WackenMetalBattleFo
SIC | http://www.facebook.com/SICofficial