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Hatari introduces new lead vocalist and songs at Iceland Airwaves

After the departure of their former vocalist, Matthías Haraldsson, known for his grating, sandpapery vocals, Hatari fans have been wondering- who will replace him?

On June 15th, the band revealed a teaser post of the new member, the elusive “Big D.”, who was revealed at Iceland Airwaves to be David Thor. They gave us a glimpse of his vocals, which, while similar to Haraldsson’s, lack the grating intensity and control. Both are heavily filtered, and Thor’s voice still delivers a rough contrast to the other vocalist, Klemens Hannigan. Hannigan’s signature style is high-pitched, warbling, angelic vocals and the duo form that iconic Hatari sound of angel/devil.

Hatari with new vocalist, David Thor

At Iceland Airwaves, the Icelandic BDSM trio revealed two new songs, Breadcrumbs and Cheap Perfume. This is a new direction from their previous music, which is exclusively in Icelandic. The songs released in Neyslutrans and Neysluvara, their first studio album and EP, are known for their wordplay and nuance that is evident once translated and explained- Icelandic is a complex language. The lyrics were almost like poetry, and that’s how the band started. Hannigan wrote poems and asked Haraldsson (his cousin) to scream them over some music. The translations are as interesting as the actual lyrics and pick apart the intricacies provided by the original Icelandic. I feel like this is lost by switching to English lyrics- this no longer feels like the same band who brought a children’s choir out to sing the final verse of their song at a concert or added a 3-minute violin solo in the middle of their industrial, BDSM-themed album.

Of the two tracks revealed, Breadcrumbs seems closes to the original Hatari sound. It has a driving beat and addictive rhythm. Hannigan’s vocals are sultry and smooth, reminiscent of their single Klamstrakur (Filthy Boy). Thor’s vocals in the intro are rapid, almost like rap and like their song from Neyslutrans, Helviti (Hell). Unfortunately, the lyrics in the recording are quite muffled. I like the new direction the band is going with Hannigan, showcasing his stronger, more sultry vocals. I love his angelic high-pitched vocals, but his strongest points are in his mid-range to deep vocals.

Cheap Perfume is a Hannigan-only track and reminds me a lot of his solo work. It doesn’t sound like Hatari but is still an awesome track. There are other tracks where only Hannigan sings, and they have a completely different sound due to the instrumental. The instrumental on Cheap Perfume is missing the buzzy, rough electronic sound that is signature to the Icelandic trio. Some of the sounds are close, but it fundamentally does not sound like Hatari.

That said, I’m looking forward to release of both tracks, and excited that the band is making music again at all. Their last release was their single Dansið eða Deyið over a year ago, right before the band’s split. I hope the studio tracks put more polish and more of their signature sound into the songs, as well as change the editing on Thor’s voice, since even Haraldsson’s vocals were so heavily edited that they sounded entirely different on studio tracks.

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