Eistnaflug 2016 live review
Venue: Various venues, Neskaupstaðu, Iceland
Opeth and Meshuggah beam down to Iceland’s otherworldly metal fest
In an age where the ‘festival experience’ has become a more pressing priority for many than a love of the music these events provide, Eistnaflug strikes the balance of melding art and spectacle better than most. Situated in the tiny Icelandic town of Neskaupstaður, a place so remote that you feel you're steps away from the edge of the Earth and with a view so breathtaking that could have been lifted from the frame of a Stanley Kubrick movie, Eistnaflug invites the cream of its country’s underground, and a handful of bigger names acts from across the globe, to venture into this untouched territory and celebrate their musical achievements.
A headline performance on the Wednesday from MARDUK  finds the band continuing to sound as raw, unrefined and ghastly as they did 25 years ago. These are old dogs, with no new tricks, but they remain effective.
Kicking off the Thursday on the main Boli stage, the piercing, progressive black metal of ZHRINE  is one of the highlights of the festival. Gradually hypnotising a transfixed crowd for what seems an eternity, they then lash out with all the venom of a serpent strike. On the smaller Brennivin stage, ABOMINOR  go for pure muscular bludgeon that does the job, but lacks fireworks.
SÓLSTAFIR , on the other hand, are all about coercing myriad influences from their musical pot. It’s an oddly sparse crowd for the first of two shows, but they run through a set that is both riff heavy and intelligently icy. Fusing death, thrash and Middle Eastern folk into a taut, crowd-rousing current, MELECHESH  are a breathless blast that feels like a victory march from another world. ANGIST’s  occult and mesmeric death metal rumblings are always one of the big draws of Eistnaflug, but unfortunately this time they’re niggled by sound issues, with Edda Tegeder Óskarsdóttir’s vocals lost in the mix. Performance-wise, however, they nail it. On the Boli stage headliners IMMOLATION  are beginning to look and sound their age. The songs are reassuringly old-school, reliably head-nodding, but the band themselves creak in too many places for 2016, especially when put in direct comparison with a band like MISÞYRMING  and their relentlessly foul, modern take on black metal. Their set barely pauses for breath, and the stench of evil permeates as they bid us all farewell.