HAM – “Buffalo Virgin”

We are HAM!

I’ve written about HAM before, specifically their most recent album, 2011’s Svik, harmur og dauði, which is a gothic-metal masterpiece.  Well, we had a chance to see them again at Airwaves this year, though to be honest we only hung out for about three songs as we were killing time while bands switched over at another venue.  Since we’d seen HAM before, it wasn’t imperative to see their entire set, but it was worth the short walk to see at least a few songs.  Plus we got the added benefit of hearing what was perhaps the greatest song introduction of all time:

“That last song was about friendship.  This song too is about friendship.  And hate!”

We are HAM!  We got to see Óttarr Proppé with his other band, Dr. Spock, later in the trip, and that show was epic.  I also ran into him at a venue and got to talk to him for a brief second, and he turned out to be a cool guy.

I ran across this gem on eBay, and was glad to snatch it up for around $8 (shipping included).  The cover is a bit rough, but the disk was in good shape, and after a quick cleaning I dropped it on the Rega and gave it a spin.

Buffalo Virgin was released in 1989 and was HAMs second LP.  While I can hear similarities to the band of today, particular in the scratchy vocals of Proppé and the deep baritone of his singing partner Sigurjón Kjartansson, the album as a whole doesn’t have that deep, gothic, doom feel of Svik, harmur og dauði.  No questioning that it’s metal, and certainly of the slower, more plodding variety.  Basically I’d say that whereas Svik, harmur og dauði is truly heavy, Buffalo Virgin is more metal – it just rocks a bit more.

That’s not to say the guys from HAM don’t know how to have a bit of fun, though.  After all, they do cover ABBA’s “Voulez Vous,” so they get points for that (but the song “Whole Lotta Love” is not a Led Zeppelin cover).  Another bonus is that most of the songs are in English, unlike their newer material that is in Icelandic.  Although to be fair, the Icelandic language sounds way more ominous for their current brand of goth-doom metal.

Buffalo Virgin doesn’t feel like a two-ton weight resting in your chest in the way that Svik, harmur og dauði does, but it’s less heavy, more metal sound provides a less intense, more fun listening experience.  Tracking this one down might take a bit of work, but it’s worth it.

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