In late 2016, Pönksafn Íslands, or the Icelandic Punk Museum, opened its doors in a former public restroom, right in the heart of Reykjavík. Johnny Rotten was on hand to give his blessing. I haven’t been yet but, without question, will check it out on my next visit. My hope and expectation is that the museum will offer up a peek into a compact, but vibrant and relatively prolific local scene with some authenticity. Keeping in mind that it inhabits an old public bathroom, hopefully Pönksafn Íslands isn’t overly sanitized on account of being in ground zero of Iceland’s flood of tourism. After my visit, my plan is to talk to some local punks and scene veterans for their opinions.
Though perhaps not well known outside of few “big names,” Iceland, especially its capital city, has a rich history of fiercely independent and boundary-pushing heavy music. Dauðyflin’s new full-length, Ofbeldi (roughly translating to “violence”) is a testament to that tradition and offers a brand of obsidian-dark hardcore punk that is as cerebral and infectious as it is brash. A near-deafening fury of buzzing and pulsating guitar work and venomous vocals is delivered with depth and groove. Far from boiler-plate hardcore, Ofbeldi shreds, but also wanders into some interesting territory.
With 11 tracks in the 1-2 minute range, Dauðyflin manages to pack a lot of feeling into a very small window. Of course, the prerequisite aggression and breakneck pace is not lacking. Ferocious front woman, Alexandra, spews the entirely Icelandic lyrics with such spite and anger that translation is not necessary to deliver the message. Júlíana’s guitars are a buzz saw of gnarly riffs in a cloud of white-hot feedback. The drumming, courtesy of Fannar, is unrelenting. The balance is found in layers of surf rock-style reverb and a fuzzy chorus bass tone that gives the songs an dreary and ominous vibe. Though Dísa’s bass lines are driving, the tonal quality is brooding. The result makes me think of the Misfits laid on top of Bauhaus record. All and all, Ofbeldi is everything you would want in a hardcore record; loud, concise, and then some.
The next time I am in Reykjavík, maybe I will run into the folks in Dauðyflin. I would love to talk to them about the hardcore punk scene in our respective cities, maybe a bit of politics and of course, their take on the the Icelandic Punk Museum.
Dauðyflin is playing at Hardcore Stadium in Cambridge on Tuesday, July 18th. Unfortunately, I cannot make it, but you should.