Once there was a hardcore band in Iceland called Fighting Shit. They put out some CDs in the mid-2000s and were pretty decent, if not well known outside their native land.
So why are they important?
Well, their former drummer is arguably one of the most gifted and well respected of the new generation of classical musicians, artists who play and compose in a classical style but still bring modern technology to their works through sampling, etc. His name is Ólafur Arnalds, and he has an insanely passionate and devoted international following. If you’ve seen the movies Hunger Games or Gimmie Shelter, or watched the British TV crime drama Broadchurch, you’ve been exposed to his music without even knowing it. (And their former guitarist, Þórir Georg Jónsson, is a pretty impressive musician in his own right as well, one who often gets overlooked when Fighting Shit is mentioned… but I for one really like his stuff as well)
I came across these three Fighting Shit CDs complete by accident. I emailed the Paradísarborgarplötur label looking for something specific, and over the course of a few emails I got a list of a bunch of CDs and tapes they had available. Given how reasonable the prices were, I asked them to basically send me one of everything. And that, my friends, is how I ended up with not one not two but three Fighting Shit CDs: Tuned For Thrash (2003), Bothered – a split release with Dead After School (2005), and Forgotten Daughters, Abandoned Sons (2006). Almost the complete discography, as near as I can tell.
Musically Fighting Shit was hardcore, pure and simple. Maybe even a bit more heavy metal thrash than hardcore punk – the songs are incredible bursts of speed and energy. I mean, the nine song Tuned For Thrash is only 11 minutes long, with eight songs running less than a minute apiece. These are insane flurries of noise, though musically there’s structure – this isn’t just some insane noise fest, these guys are playing legit songs, and they sound pretty tight even with all the speed.
By Forgotten Daughters, Abandoned Sons Fighting Shit slowed down the pace a little, and while the vocals are still raspy assaults on your ears, you can now easily understand the words (which are in English) without the aid of a lyric sheet, at least you can a lot of the time. Musically the band matured by leaps and bounds, alternating pacing within songs and even doing some harmonizing. It’s a much more approachable album to my ears, having moved even more towards the heavy metal end of the spectrum and with songs long enough that you have a chance to get into them – with seven songs at about 21 minutes it’s more a traditional format. Some of it is even slow and heavy, most impressively the nine minute, Sólstafir-like “I Am The Quiet End,” my favorite song in their catalog, by far.
I’m not going to pretend that I could have listened to Fighting Shit back in the day and thought, “you know, there’s something about that drummer… I’ll be he’s going to be huge someday”. It’s hard to believe that Arnalds has been releasing recorded music for this long – he would have been about 17 when Tuned For Thrash came out… and he’s only 27 today! His body of work is impressive, not only because he’s so young but also because he seamlessly transitioned from his hardcore punk with Fighting Shit to his classical sounding solo and collaborative projects, a disparity that couldn’t be much greater, moving from one end of the spectrum to the other without any real stops along the way.
I was primarily interested in hearing Fighting Shit because of Arnald’s involvement, but after giving these CDs a listen I came away impressed with what I heard, especially Forgotten Daughters, Abandoned Sons, which I’m going to need to burn to my iPod. I’m not sure if a hardcore fan of Arnalds current work will enjoy Fighting Shit, but I can promise that if you like punk/thrash metal they’re worth a listen.