Maybe Sigur Rós Are a Little Heavy Metal After All

Slate's Culture Blog
March 22 2013 1:09 PM

Sigur Rós Return With Heavy New Sound

82993869
JónsiBirgisson of SigurRós performs in New York

Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

The members of the Icelandic band Sigur Rós have long described the group as a sort of metal band—lead singer Jónsi grew up listening to Metallica and Iron Maiden—but the claim is usually greeted with bemusement. That might change after new album Kveikur, announced today on their website, especially if new track “Brennisteinn” is any indication. You can listen to “Brennisteinn” by watching the new music video below.

The band, best known for glacial rhythms and Jónsi’s ethereal falsetto, have had their heavier moments in the past. There are thunderous, crashing climaxes in songs like “Ný batterí” and “Untitled #8” (aka the “Pop Song”), for instance—but these moments generally come after several minutes of slow build. “Brennisteinn,” on the other hand, announces itself with monster Inception-like braAAHMs right out of the gate. Jónsi’s reverberating bowed guitar is still there, but his voice often drops out of his usual falsetto as he sings over tumbling drums. Even the video is a little metal, deserting the usual verdant hillsides of their homeland for a scorched, alien landscape and some grotesque pagan ritual (a subject that’s an old metal favorite).

Advertisement

Sigur Rós has been taking this “more aggressive” sound on tour, and, surprisingly for a band that sings 8-minute songs in Icelandic and with made-up words, they continue to get bigger in the U.S. They’ll be on Fallon tonight, and they’re playing Madison Square Garden on Monday. Kveikur comes out June 18.

Update, March 23:
Here's the band debuting "Kveikur," the title track off the new album, on Fallon:

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.