Skepna got a lot of people excited with their rocking debut in 2013 and garnered a lot of solid press for their live performances at Airwaves and Eistnaflug, but then seem to have gone radio silent for a bit. But all good things to those who wait, and last month the trio treated us to a new album, the hard-driving Dagar Heiftar Og Heimsku. Skepna are back, and they’re as good as they ever were, if not maybe even a bit better.
All three Skepna members have impressive rock credentials. Bassist Hördur Ingi Stefànsson played with one of my all-time favorite Icelandic rock outfits Brain Police. Drummer Björn Stefánsson was part of the powerhouse Mínus. And Hallur Ingólfsson? Oh, he just played in a couple of OK bands like XIII and, you know, HAM. No biggie. Just a handful of the best hard rocking bands to ever come out of Iceland. I figure I probably have something like 15 albums on my shelves that these guys have played on over the years.
Dagar Heiftar Og Heimsku doesn’t try to do anything fancy. It just rocks your face off. How can three guys get such a full sound (check out “Rautt”)? “Biturt Blóð” is the most intriguing song to my ears, one that captures the strengths of the members’ respective former bands – the heavy psych of Brain Policy, the edginess of Mínus, a dose of HAM doomishness, and the polish of XIII all compressed into a diamond-hard track of riffs. My other favorite is “Kjarval”, a sonic jackhammer, relentless with a tricky bass line adding character to the track and giving the whirlwind of the sonics something to circle. Everyone gets their space to explore and shine, but I want to give an extra shout-out to Stefànsson’s bass work. He’s not confined to keeping pace with the drums but instead given room to roam, and he takes full advantage. Often it’s difficult to pick out the bass on a hard rock record, but that’s not the case on Dagar Heiftar Og Heimsku – it’s always right where it needs to be, sometimes supporting, sometimes out front leading the way.
I’m not sure about the press run on the vinyl – mine is on red, and that’s about all I can tell you. There’s a free download included on a sticker affixed to the bottom corner of the inner sleeve, so if you’re looking for a loose card inside you might miss it. Definitely recommended.