My favorite part of Metal Roulette is how much research you sometimes need to do just to give one band a listen. This week required a little more digital legwork but it was pretty fun. Through the help of Bandcamp, YouTube, and Spotify I’ve gotten to hear a vast selection of music.
The country we picked this week is Iceland. Having been to Iceland, I thought the landscape and extreme winters might foster some decent metal bands. Being a smaller country I wasn’t sure how many bands I would find that have been able to break out. This country in particular had me doing a little more research but I think you will find the results rather favorable.
My random list browsing brought me to many bands. The one that stuck with me was Dynfari. I am sure some of you may have already heard of them. I might be a little behind in the game but I never pretend to know every single band. Somehow this group slipped under my radar but in the short period of time since I have been listening, they have already gone straight to being played on repeat.
Dynfari originally formed in 2010 as a duo. The band has since doubled in size and over the course of four years has released three albums. Each album is as complex in meaning as it is in sound. They are a heavily atmospheric band with tinges of black metal.
Their songs take you on a spiritual journey. Rich and complex, taking you to the end of eternity where you can stare into the abyss. Seeing it all yet seeing nothing. Their music ebbs and flows between hope and crushing sorrow.
Their latest album is Vegferð Tímans which means “Journey of Time.” After seemingly endless touring with this release, the band is back in Iceland taking a much needed break and getting back into the studio. I reached out to Jóhann of Dynfari to see what they might have up their sleeve for us this coming year and he was kind enough to answer a few questions below.
With such a powerful release in 2015, I am anxious to see where Dynfari goes. This group feels as much like a group of rogue philosophers and poets as they do a metal band. Please head over to their website and Facebook and show them some support. Links to their sites are below, I hope you enjoy!
We are curious what Dynfari has planned for the year to come?
After a short hiatus after our very long and rewarding American tour with Negura Bunget we have started rehearsals again. We are working on new material which has had some setbacks because of me breaking my finger and being in a cast for 5 weeks and also after that a member being abroad for 2 weeks. But things are going well and we have 8 songs written for a new album that we will be recording this summer. Most of this material was originally written 2-3 years ago but is now being polished and rehearsed by all of us. It will be the first Dynfari album to be recorded as a full band and not as a duo. We are also playing two Icelandic festivals in the summer, Eistnaflug and Norðanpaunk, and we will be premiering our new material at both of them.
Given how complex your music is, where do you derive some of your inspiration for the journeys you navigate the listener through?
I have been asked this a number of times and I think I have never been able to give the same answer. I guess just life in general. Personally I feel the need to create especially when I’m feeling down, melancholic or just feeling existential dread. I think that shows a lot in my lyrics and is hopefully felt in the music as well. It is supposed to feel hopeless and hopeful at the same time. When Vegferð tímans’ release was announced, we were actually quite skeptical of whether the label should call it a black metal album. To us, sure, it has black metal elements that used to be more prominent in our older material, but we’ve later boosted the level of post-rock influence which has also been there from the start. I think some people may be surprised by the new album.
And finally, do you find that the landscape, weather, and environment of Iceland has played a large part in the development of your music and writing?
I think that part is largely overplayed in people’s minds when they think about Icelandic music. I can understand where the thought comes from, as we live in the middle of the Atlantic ocean and get practically every storm from the US east coast over us as well (and often worse versions) along with the 16-20 hour darkness in the winter. And of course, that influences how you think and develop, just how people’s environment always influences them.
But I think I would not be honest in saying that it plays a large part in our musical or lyrical development. Some, sure. I mean, our first album was about a man getting lost in a snowstorm, losing his brother, losing all hope and eventually committing suicide. That’s not something you would expect to come from a bright, sunny country. But Sem Skugginn and Vegferð Tímans were both very philosophical and I think the environment of Iceland didn’t really have much of a role in the creation of those two albums.
But of course I can mention our album covers, who have all been photographs from Icelandic nature, but usually distorted or manipulated in some way. The debut album cover was not manipulated at all. Perhaps you could say that it emphasizes that change from the lyrical content being pretty concrete and direct from our environment to more of an abstract concept. The new album will actually not feature lyrics written by me, but more details on that will be revealed later.