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4.6 out of 5 stars68
4.6 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 18 June 2013
All Sigur Rós's music is a soundtrack to the Icelandic landscape. Their new album, Kveikur, does the volcanoes. The record opens with the thunderous bass line of Brennisteinn ('Brimstone'), a pyroclastic flow of a song: a percussive, aggressive statement of intent. The pace, intensity and sheer loudness of this opener is sustained throughout the album. It's a real change of direction for the band, and unquestionably a positive one.

The cover art suggests a dark, heavy album; and it is, in places. The title track is particularly powerful, combining anguished vocals and discordant violins and screeching feedback to chilling effect. But it's not all like that. As with previous Sigur Rós albums, there's a balance between light and dark, day and night, hope and despair. The counterpoint to Kveikur is Ísjaki ('Iceberg'): one of the most uplifting songs the band has ever written.

I've seen a number of critics describe Kveikur as a 'return to form', but I don't buy that: it requires that at some point the band lost its form. The truth is that Sigur Rós has never produced a bad album. Even last year's sombre Valtari makes sense in hindsight, now we can see it for what it was: an elegant and understated way of tying up loose ends, winding up the band's time as a four-piece and its record deal with EMI. Less than twelve months on, Sigur Rós has returned one member down, but with a new label, a new sound and a new sense of purpose.
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on 17 June 2013
Sigur Ros are not mega mega famous, but those in the music industry know all about them and have done so for many years now.

Their fans are a loyal bunch and i place myself in that group, and over the years since i first heard Von played on vinyl i have been mesmerised by their sound.

So naturally Kveikur was a hotly anticipated album, even moreso with the departure of Kjartan and Sigur Ros teasing their fans with new songs on their current European and American tour, giving us unforgettable performances of Brennisteinn, Hrafnatinna, Kveikur and the sublime Yfirborð, the latter of which was the opener to the tour.

This new album is darker than anything they ever did, though Von still trumps all of them in the scary stakes, but Kveikur is so much more different. See, Sigur Ros have now grown up, and their sound has evolved to reflect this change, which seems a natural progression after the stillness of Valtari, or the poppy energy from Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust.

But for fans of sigur ros, new and old, this album will NOT dissapoint, yes it is more aggressive in places, more industrial sounding, even sexy in places, but its still very much a classic Sigur Ros, or will be eventually.

I wont give a track by track account of this album but i will point out the highlights, the biggest being how each song flows naturally to the next giving the listener yet another musical journey into the netherworld of Sigur Ros's collective hive mind, the first 4 songs from the album have been heard many times even before the release of the album, Bren, hraf and Yfirborð have been playded throughout their recent live shows, and Isjaki was released recently on the Sigur Ros website, so the first new song we properly hear is Stormur. Upon hearing Stormur we begin to realize that Sigur Ros may have saved the best til last, however there is nothing wrong with the first four songs, they are stunning but already familiar.

Stormur however, wow, typical sigur ros epicness, Stormur sounds like it came from the album Takk, which i know is a firm fan favourite and every album since has been compared to Takk, rightly or wrongly.

Rafstraumur did not dissapoint either, neither does Bláþráður or Var.

As usual, Jonsi and his band of merry men have produced a masterpiece of musical wonderment, an album which will stand the test of time. Kveikur firmly places this band at the top of the tree now, and despite their success they still remain as grounded and as inventive and creative as they ever have been.

That said, this album is a different beast which should excite all who happen to come across it, be them fans of sigur ros, die hard fans of sigur ros, or those who have heard Hippopola and want to hear more. This is still Sigur Ros, of course it is!

Crucially, this album takes you away for a while, and brings you back gently as breathtakingly beautiful instrumental track Var plays out quietly. Kveikur is a damn fine album, many highlights, and some vivid memories for those lucky enough to catch them on their recent tour, myself included. I do have a minor confession to make, i have been listening to the album on the live stream on the sigur ros website, so i was quite familiar with it already even before it came out.

It seems the majority of twitter agree with me, #kveikur is throwing up non stop praise from those fans who are listening to this new album, calling it awesome, mindblowing, out of this world... Its all this and more. For those fans who have not heard their new material yet, your in for a treat, this will blow you away.

Thank you Jonsi, Georg and Orri, and all those who play a part in making this stunning work of art. My ears are a happier place for yur music.
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Now seperated from instrumentalist Kjartan Sveinsson, the trio that is Sigur Ros take an entirely different route with album 7 : the same, but different. No one else could make a record like this, but built on a foundation of guitar, bass, and drums, an integral part of the band, the keyboard/piano/strings that made the band matter and gave them the key dynamism, the drama, that made Sigur Ros so distinctive. With "Kveikur" the band have taken everything they used to have, and gone left with it : no longer airy, silent earscapes, but tense, dramatic, noise, built on crescendos of drums, bass, guitar/violin, and Jonsi's well known, abstract voice-as-melody work which somehow makes this the same, yet different, the same Sigur Ros ; in an artistic watershed, think of this as the same moment as the departure of Alan Wilder from Depeche Mode, where a key architect's influence falls away, and the band is the same, yet not the same. Songs such as "Brennisteinn", "Var" and "Kveikur" are familiar, having been in the live sets for several months, but at the time, felt incongrouous, as if they didn't quite fit, with the band now a rhythmic, coiled snake, reminiscent of the same kind of drama that filled stadiums for The Cure and Depeche Mode two decades ago. But also, here is a kind of music that is the soundtrack for thinking, for gazing out on a platform waiting to go home, for the absent minded meditation of washing up and reading. You might be forgiven for thinking it was all downhill after the fragmentation of the core quarter after 15 years together, but no. "Kveikur" is a promise of a continued future in the same, unqiue world, that Sigur Ros have always lived in. You are welcome to visit.
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on 21 July 2013
I was quite surprised to see a new album so soon after VALTARI, but even more surprised to discover what a bold experiment the band have undertaken. Opener 'Brennisteinn' makes it patently clear that this isn't the Sigur Ros that made 'Valtari' or 'Takk'... Full of harsh, distorted electronics and off-kilter beats, Brennistein is almost industrial, and full of menace. It announces unmistakably that Kveikur is a radical departure, and the first Sigur Ros album that you can use to frighten children (OK, maybe VON).

Yet somehow it still sounds like Sigur Ros... Jonsi's vocals are unmistakable, and there is still that dedication to crafting sound into textures - it's just that the textures includes a lot more rusty nails and broken glass than before. As much as I love the band's earlier albums (well, except VON), they must have felt that they had taken their signature style of soft atmospherics swelling to epic crescendos as far as they could go. Valtari already played around with the formula, peaking only once - near the start - then gradually petering out over the rest of the album. Kveikur takes it in the opposite direction... the default mode is full on, and it only occasionally drops to a mellower mood, acting as a sort of reverse crescendo. It's effective.

Whilst I love KVEIKUR at least as much as any other Sigur Ros album, and I hope that it isn't a one-off experiment, I also hope that it's not the end of the band's production of epics like 'Ny Batteri'. I think there is room on a single album for both styles - it will be interesting to see what they do next. Hopefully, having taken the bold step of producing something so atypical, they will feel liberated to experiment even further... but hopefully not forget that signature style that nobody else does quite like Sigur Ros.
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on 11 January 2014
Taken from my last fm journal -

I waited and waited for the mood to take me. I needed something special to accompany listening to Kveikur. The hills began to roll under my feet, as my legs became rigid pendulums, carrying me through the thick hot air on our warmest day of the year.

The album sang as I knew it would and my aura began to ring with the same colour omitted by the rural tapestry that stretched out as far as my tearful eyes could reach. I felt free, effervescent, fluorescent, Omni-present.

The haunted industrial tones, pop like compression, a voice with such emotion merely baring witness is like being rained on while cocooned in an intensely vital sepulchre. Stormur made me cry in the first 30 seconds. I washed my face in a natural spring and my feet continued to pound on.

How Sigur Ros lost a key member, but delivered one of, if not the best album any of them have ever produced mystifies. I'm reminded of how terrifyingly consistent Takk was on first listen, they're injecting every bar with something unique and genuinely magical, alien and still to this day without comparison.
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on 12 September 2013
This is the album I've been waiting for them to do since Agaetis Byrjun. I've followed Sigur Ros ever since the spine-tingling moment in 2001 when I first heard the soaring guitar in that album's opener Svefn-g-englar. They followed that album with the slightly disappointing '()' but it was their breakthrough album Takk, when they diversified their sound, that they attracted more mainstream audiences. There have been many moments of brilliance on each album since then (last years abysmal ambient experiment Valtari the exception) but nothing to match Agaetis Byrjun or Takk. Until now. Kveikur is the closest they'll ever come to making, for want of a better word, a `rock' record. That term devalues the sophistication of this record, but they have avoided some of the recent orchestral excesses and produced an album of both power and beauty. The first track announces it's intent sounding like a metalworks growling. Despite its opening, this album is just as euphoric as previous records and is easily the liveliest they've done. A brilliant return to form.
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on 8 January 2014
As an occasional listener of Sigur Ros rather than a fan, I do like this album as it has an edge that separates it from their earlier offerings in a way which adds even more to their style. It is certainly worth a listen. I purchased the Vinyl version and can promise that in conjunction with a pretty decent turntable and equipment, Sigur Ros sound great.
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on 28 January 2014
I couldn't say I have ever been a huge Sigur Ros fan, but I am familiar with their more well known work such as Svefn-g-englar, Hoppipolla & Njosnavelin (listen to them if you're unfamiliar with them!!), so this album probably was a bit of a toe in the water for me. But I was absolutely blown away by all of it & I fell in love with the album straight away (not something I am prone to do) & there is so much which is so good, particularly Brennisteinn, Ísjaki & Kveikur, simple but great drum beats, some really strange sounds that really fit & it has all the quality of just letting you drift off.

So how good is it really from someone who was a not really a fan? Well, I bought all their other albums based on this one, I am so pleased to have found something so very unique from a band who have been around for years & I have become a fan. Just buy it, you wont be disappointed.
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on 10 July 2013
Sigur Rós have always been creators of large expansive soundscapes. Their albums are places to explore, discovering new Icelandic islets and inlets with each listen. Kveikur though seems a much more immediate listen, especially the excellent opener Brennisteinn which is more distorted and dark than I was expecting, the title track is a belter too. I think Kveikur is a step forward for the band and I find my appetite is whetted for coming albums.

Now, I always like to leave readers with a recommendation of a little gem they might not otherwise find. If you're a fan of Sigur Rós then you have to listen to a band called Takeda, trust me;)
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on 7 October 2014
If Sigur Ros were about to castrate you, the other albums gently coerced you into anesthetic, sympathetically talked you through the procedure, gave you counselling to quell any anxiety, and then removed your testicles without ever feeling a pinch.
This album, on the other hand, just momentarily distracts you before instantly chopping your balls off between two house bricks.

It is ruthless, it is daring and it is brave. Sigur Ros have dared to diverge from cushioning their needy fans with soundtracks to wildlife documentaries and have instead decided to follow the music. And it has worked really well.

This album is everything you want from Sigur Ros. And perhaps even something you didn't expect.
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