by DatsNotDaMetulz USER (62 Reviews)
April 15th, 2020 | 3 replies

Release Date: 2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Hatari ride high on the post-Eurovision wave

Eurovision fame is incredibly short lived nowadays. While the competition in its heyday had launched the international careers of countless European acts, participants are often forgotten and disposed of as quickly as they arrive in the modern era. Therefore, acts need to be ready to offer something different and capitalise on their fame while it still lingers. Enter the self-described “Icelandic award-winning anti-capitalist techno performance BDSM band” Hatari. The trio’s blend of caustic political statements and surreal, deadpan satire made headlines throughout their time at the competition, though their pro-Palestine protests at the live final couldn’t stop them finishing an impressive 10th. In the immediate aftermath, Hatari moved fast to announce a European tour and release a new single, and in February they finally unleashed Neyslutrans upon the world.

Proceedings get off to a flying start when “Engin Miskunn” kicks into action, with Matth*as Tryggvi’s barked vocals supplemented by the stripped back industrial beats of Einar Stef. As one of the more aggressive tracks on the album, the vocals are largely dominated by Matth*as, with a bridge from Klemens Hannigan (in a much more “normal” vocal range to the falsetto we’ve become accustomed to) being the only respite, while displaying the contrast that Hatari’s performances have become known for. The more straightforward industrial tracks on the album such as the opener, “Klefi / صامد (Samed)” and of course “Hatrið mun sigra” seem to follow the same sort of pattern, giving Matth*as the majority of vocal work, and allowing for the flow of moods on the album to become more apparent. “Klefi / صامد”, the collaboration with Palestinian pop star Bashar Murad, is a particular stand out track on the album, with the sheer anger of the track towards the Israeli occupation of Palestine allowing it to transcend the language barrier of the lyrics (sung in both Icelandic and Arabic). Special praise must be reserved for Einar Stef, too. The producer behind the music has always used a more stripped back approach to techno and industrial, not particularly saturating the songs with any more than is necessary like some industrial and EBM bands have done in the past. While this more minimal-esque approach might be off-putting to some, it allows for the vocalists to remain front and centre without ever being drowned out by a cacophony of noise.

Of course, where Matth*as takes the lead on the more aggressive tracks, there are plenty of moments for Klemens to take the lead too. “Klámstrákur” is a charged electro-industrial song that challenges the role of gender in modern society, while “Þræll” feels like an exercise in what I can only describe as aggro-pop, placing more emphasis on the pop sensibilities of the trio amidst a pulsing EBM backdrop, something that only really gets repeated in the GDRN collaboration “Niðurlút”, which closes out the album. That in itself is worth highlighting, because it does feel as though Hatari have taken a far more experimental approach when Klemens (or a guest vocalist) has taken the lead on a track. “Ógleði” is the longest track on Neyslutrans and deviates significantly from the consistent pace of the rest of the album, instead slowing things out to a much more chilled out crawl. Klemens performs almost all vocals here, in his classic falsetto, adding an extra sense of sensitivity to the track along with the violins of Pétur Björnsson to create something particularly unique.

However, with that said, almost all tracks on Neyslutrans bring something different to the table, particularly those which feature guest collaborators. Already mentioned co-conspirators Bashar Murad and Pétur Björnsson each bring their own distinctive flair, be it the Middle Eastern influences of Bashar, or Pétur’s violin contributions on the interlude tracks. Up-and-coming rap group CYBER and underground rapper Svarti Laxness each bring something different too, with CYBER’s contribution “Hlauptu” leaning more into the dance elements of Hatari’s sound, and Svarti’s track “Helv*ti”, featuring no major vocals from either Matth*as nor Klemens, turning into something resembling industrial rap, with deep, haunting bass and unwelcoming electronics complementing his lyrics nicely.

The only major issue sticking out from this, of course, is that with all these guests it has made it hard to really nail down a fixed sound for Hatari – while this maybe what they’ve always intended, it has led to a number of tracks missing one or both of the core vocalists. There is also the issue of how many of these songs will be able to translate live if the group are unable to bring out all the guests on tour. With almost half of the tracks featuring guests in a prominent role, that would severely limit the amount of songs they can perform.

Overall, however, you have an impressive statement of intent on show from everyone’s favourite Icelandic anti-capitalist BDSM techno group. Hatari have worked hard to maintain the momentum that has built since Eurovision and will keep that flame burning for as long as they need it to, with major festival appearances (including at the Download Festival*) being the next step on their journey this summer. They’ll need to start getting more material that they can perform without guests for album #2, but these guys always have something planned, and I look forward to seeing what they do next.

Attribution: https://lamortdelamusique.blogspot.com/2020/03/album-review-hatari-neyslutrans.html

Note: Since publishing this review, Hatari's tour, including their appearance at Download Festival, have been cancelled

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user ratings (20)

Comments:Add a Comment 
April 15th 2020


Album Rating: 4.0

Huh. This site is OK with Arabic but not the letter í.

April 15th 2020


Not too bad of a write-up. Sounds like this is rather aggressive, which sounds a bit compelling for me.

April 19th 2024


Very great for a song like this. Hopefully I can hear more from the author Fun Games

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