On the 13th of January, both Hamferð and Auðn took to the stage in the austere and historic venue Iðnó to celebrate the releases of their new albums. It was a frigid and rainy night in Reykjavík, and the Tórshavn-based Faroese death-doom band Hamferð were an enthralling opening act, with Icelanders Auðn following with a crushing main set.
While Hamferð’s set featured material from their debut, ‘Evst’, the bulk of their performance was centred around the newly-released ‘Támsins Likam’. All dressed in funeral black, the band combined heaviness and aggression with tasteful melody and impressive dynamics. This was especially true of vocalist Jón Aldará; with a presence that was passionate yet restrained (his only words to the crowd were ‘takk fyrir, og gott kvöld’), Aldará’s harsh growls and screams were contrasted with his incredible operatic clean singing. The rest of the band displayed a similar musical dexterity, with set highlights ‘Evst’ and ‘Hon Syndrast’ allowing them to demonstrate the nuanced songwriting that their albums feature, as well as the tight playing that Hamferð are capable of.
Though Auðn were dressed about as sharply as Hamferð, there were few other similarities between the two sets, and Hamferð’s gloomy dirges were a great foil for the fiery showing that Auðn would put on. Opening with the tribal drums of ‘Veröld Hulin’ from their new album ‘Farvegir Fyrndar’, Auðn delivered song after song of melodic and punishing black metal, the heaviness of which scarcely relented throughout their set. This isn’t to say that the performance was one-dimensional; the unrestrained screams of vocalist Hjalti Sveinsson were interspersed with winding instrumental passages and guitar breaks, and the band were all clearly comfortable live performers with considerable stage presence- the headbanging from guitarists Andri Björn Birgisson and Aðalsteinn Magnússon was especially impressive.
This aside, Auðn’s set was devoid of theatrics beyond the charisma of frontman Hjalti Sveinsson, but the band played exceptionally well together. The rhythm section and vocals formed a dense wall of sound, with melodic guitar leads bursting through at intervals. ‘Lífvana Jörð’ was especially enjoyable, with contemplative guitar interludes giving way to pummelling blast beats. ‘Í Hálmstráið Held’ was a feature for the beautiful guitar interplay of Birgisson and Magnússon and the ferocity and versatility of Sveinsson’s vocals.
Both bands played for roughly an hour and demonstrated the strength of their recorded material and live acts (the concert was also sponsored by Føroya Bjór, so it doubled as a nice showcase for Faroese beers). This was a night that was a great testament to the musicianship and creativity of Hamferð and Auðn, two of perhaps the most promising and innovative bands within their respective genres.