Review of Mammút’s third album

Komdu til mín svarta systir (loosely translated as “Come to my Black Sister”), 2013


An Icelandic Style

As I sat in 12 Tonar, Reykjavik’s indie record store (and indie label, as it turns out), listening to the suggested bands on a blue Walkman mini-boombox, I noticed a trend. The vast majority of the Icelandic music coming through my headphones involved haunting and dreamy electronic sounds with harmonizing vocals and build-up into heavier “metal” moments (i.e. a crescendo with drums, symbols, and other percussion instruments). Knowing a little bit of Icelandic band Sigur Ros’s discography (love the album Takk…) – and that they are one of the bands to have brought this kind of music to the international scene (disclaimer: this is my assumption based on my experience and knowledge. Feel free to argue) – I came to the conclusion that perhaps this style is typical of Icelandic music. Or perhaps it is a style growing in popularity within the country over the past decade.

How Mammút is unique

So back to Mammút and what makes them different. Mammút’s unique traits come from their female vocalist and the often upbeat tempos found in Komdu til mín svarta systir, the group’s third album. They formed in 2003 as ROK, an all-girl trio that consisted of Katrína Kata Mogensen (daughter of Kukl bassist Birgir Mogensen), Vilborg Ása Dýradóttir, and Alexandra Baldursdóttir. Then in 2004 they added guitarist Arnar Pétursson and drummer Andri Bjartur Jakobsson. But with Katrina on lead vocals, they have a very “girl rock” sound (and I mean that in the best possible way).

Mammut Band

From their website

In some of their songs, I am reminded of another favorite: now-defunct Montreal band Land of Talk’s first album, Some Are Lakes. There’s a certain forcefulness to both of these bands’ styles – and the fact that they both have female lead singers – that brings me to draw some parallels. The second song on Komdu til mín svarta systir, “Blóðberg”, in particular reminds me of Land of Talk, with a little bit of that typical Minus the Bear electronic sound in the background (to try and describe it without knowing exactly how it’s produced: higher-pitched melody notes in quick succession. Like in Minus the Bear’s “I’m Totally Not Down With Rob’s Alien”).

Rock Your Socks Off

There’s something about the sweeping dark electronic sounds and the rock tempos in Komdu til mín svarta systir that is better listened to on a pair of headphones than over a speaker. I can only imagine what their concerts must be like, though. With a proper bass, this album has the potential to rock your socks off. There is enough variation to keep things interesting, but the lead vocals and deep haunting sounds found throughout keep it cohesive.

My rating: 4/5 stars

Watch the music video for “Þau svæfa ” below.

Oh, and did I mention the group won three accolades (with eight nominations) at the 2013 Icelandic Music Awards? “Album of the Year – Pop & Rock”, “Song of the Year – Pop & Rock” (for their single “Salt”), and “Album Cover of the Year”. So what I’m saying is, you should check it out.

Buy their album here.
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