Despite having previously released three studio albums over the past ten years (Mammút in 2006, Karkari in 2008, and Komdu til mín svarta systir in 2013), five-piece Icelandic rock band Mammút will next week unveil their first record on which the entirety of the lyrics will be sung in the English language. Kinder Versions, out on 14 July via Bella Union Records, was successfully financed by money raised on Karolina Fund, the group’s native crowdfunding website, and is released in the hope of targeting a wider audience who may not have previously been exposed to the band’s almost wholly Icelandic lyrics.
Conveying Mammút‘s signature dark and brooding sound from the get-go is the album’s first track, “We Tried Love”. Surprisingly, despite a change in language, the mysterious atmosphere of the band’s music is in no way detracted from, and the track is initially sinister and discordant sounding, with strong percussion elements. The prominent isolated vocals of lead singer Katrína Mogensen (daughter of a former Bjork band mate) create an unsettling tone, however, in contrast, the chorus blossoms into a relaxing, laid back melody. “Kinder Versions”, the album’s title track, appears to reflect the influence of spoken-word on the record, and begins with a soft, acoustic guitar accompaniment. However an angsty tone builds as the track progresses, as does the instrumental texture, yet significantly the acoustic guitar chords are not buried as the track’s composure becomes more complex.
“Bye Bye” is further full of strong emotion and hauntingly harmonious vocals, whilst lyrics urging the listener to “dance with the devil” and “curse your father” also contribute to the sinister undertones of the album. Similarly, “The Moon Will Never Turn on Me” includes some discordantly beautiful string sections, creating a disturbing vibe when coupled with Katrína’s intense and building vocals. “Breathe Into Me”, a song which sounds like it belongs on the Twilight movie soundtrack, is slow and understated, before “Walls”, one of the shortest songs on the record packs a punch with its intricate guitar patterns and catchy chorus.
“What’s Your Secret” blends a confusing mix of heavy guitar and distorted vocals, whilst “Pray For Air” blurs the lines between minimalist and heavy rock music. Finally, “Sorrow” is a heartfelt track, peppered with experimental synth and electronic elements. Despite Mammút‘s radical decision to sing in English rather than their native language, it’s great to see that Kinder Versions proves that this choice has in no way affected the band’s sound, or distorted their collective identity.
Mammút’s Kinder Versions is out on Friday 14th July via Bella Union, and is available to pre-order now.
Words by Kate Eldridge