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Ice­land’s Vik­ing he­roes add some bows to their bom­bast


Skálmöld may not be an overly fa­mil­iar name in the UK, but such is their sta­tus in their na­tive Ice­land they’ve sold 6,000 tick­ets across four nights in reykjavík’s stun­ning Harpa the­atre in just a mat­ter of days. These shows are some­thing truly spe­cial for an al­to­gether dif­fer­ent rea­son, how­ever; ac­com­pa­ny­ing them is the Ice­landic Sym­phony Orches­tra. In­clud­ing band, orches­tra, two choirs and con­duc­tors, there are 198 peo­ple on­stage and the open­ing or­ches­tral over­ture is suit­ably bom­bas­tic. Act I sees lit­tle room for sub­tlety, with band and orches­tra pow­er­ing through the likes of Múspell, Loki and Sorg with an over­whelm­ing sense of grav­i­tas and power. The sound is crys­tal clear through­out, and the two mu­si­cal worlds co­a­lesce with what ap­pears to be con­sum­mate ease. The adult choir in par­tic­u­lar are truly spec­tac­u­lar, wring­ing emo­tional res­o­nance out of what could eas­ily be grandil­o­quent ma­te­rial and the chil­dren’s choir are adorable, throw­ing the horns and head­bang­ing along to the mu­sic with great en­thu­si­asm.

Act II sees much more range and dy­namism within the mu­sic, be­gin­ning with a sub­lime ren­di­tion of the a capella Heima, courtesy of bassist Snae­b­jörn rag­nars­son. Af­ter all the grandios­ity of Act I, the con­trast is star­tling and works ex­tremely well. The crowd’s en­thu­si­asm is saved most for cuts such as Narfi, Með Jöt­num and an en­core of Kvaðn­ing which gets the en­tire room singing in uni­son. It’s a bril­liant, soul-stir­ring emo­tional cli­max to a very spe­cial show.

Skálmöld were heavily out­num­bered ontheir Univer­sity Chal­lenge ap­pear­ance

Skálmóld: the viewfrom the gods

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