So, answer this question: which head of state needs a dose of metal to get him ready for Parliament every morning – and which band’s music does he play to give him the necessary adrenaline surge?
It’s Iceland’s President Guðni Jóhannesson, of course, whose love of his country’s biggest metal band Skálmöld led him to say in 2018: “I admire them because they’re much more than just a metal band. For me, the most admirable aspects of Skálmöld’s songs are their lyrical themes. Here in Iceland, we want to maintain our literary and cultural heritage, and to do that we need to make it accessible to new generations.  Skálmöld are a link between our old heritage and today’s culture!” Can you imagine Donald Trump saying the same thing about Metallica, or Angela Merkel laying similar praise at Rammstein’s feet? Of course not – which says a lot about the appeal of this band of Vikings. You don’t need to take the word of the President, though; the facts speak for themselves. Skálmöld – which translates as ‘Age Of Swords’ – formed in the summer of 2009 and comprise Björgvin Sigurðsson (vocals, guitar), Þráinn Árni Baldvinsson (guitar), Baldur Ragnarsson (guitar), Snæbjörn Ragnarsson (bass), Gunnar Ben (keyboards) and Jón Geir Jóhannsson (drums).

Their debut album Baldur was released the following year and made an instant impact, even on a metal scene saturated with Viking-themed albums. The reasons for this are obvious; Snæbjörn Ragnarsson’s lyrics stick closely to the poetic rules of the ancient Icelandic sagas, where every syllable is considered and internal rhyme is paramount. The Icelandic public were reeling at the time from two major crises – remember the collapse of their entire banking system, and the volcanic eruption that stopped air traffic across half of Europe? In this climate, a band such as Skálmöld, who celebrated the very essence of their domestic culture, were destined for instant glory – and so it proved to be. A decade later, with three more albums under their bullet belts – Börn Loka (2012), Með Vættum (2014) and Vögguvísur Yggdrasils (2016) – Skálmöld have taken a huge step forward with their fifth album, Sorgir, out on Napalm Records on October 12. The new songs range from the all-out thrash metal assault of ‘Brunin’, the sinister, melodic power of ‘Skotta’ and the classically-influenced ‘Mara’ – the last of these coming as no surprise, given that the band played four dates in August alongside the Iceland Symphony Orchestra at the immense, iconic concert hall Harpa in Reykjavik.

Again, which other band can say the same? Skálmöld are one of a kind. Miss them at your peril!
Joel McIver, 2018


Baldur Ragnarsson – Guitar

Björgvin Sigurðsson – Vocals / Guitar

Gunnar Ben – Keyboards

Jón Geir Jóhannsson – Drums

Snæbjörn Ragnarsson – Bass

Þráinn Árni Baldvinsson – Guitar


2018 – Sorgir

2016 – Vögguvísur Yggdrasils

2014 – Með vættum

2013 – Skálmöld & Sinfóníuhljómsveit Íslands (CD/DVD)

2012 – Börn Loka

2010 – Baldur





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Skalstorm European Tour MMXVIII – supporting Alestorm
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