After a rough midsummer celebration, I am back to continue our journey through all competing countries, and their metal scenes. Today, we dig deeper into group D, let us begin.
It feels so wrong to say that Argentina is a one man team since there is an amazing amount of offensive talent in this team, but in its current state, it certainly feels like Messi is carrying a massive load in this World Cup. With a poor qualifying effort that nearly saw Argentina miss the competition, I am having a hard time seeing manager Sampaoli bringing this group together, and maximizing their potential. With players like Aguero, Dybala, Di Maria, Pavon, Higuain, and previously mentioned Messi, it really should not be that difficult. Yet somehow, it is. Lord help those poor souls...
In metal, Argentina is clearly behind their rival Brazil in their development, with no real stand out bands at all. Their most prominent band is probably Rata Blanca, a classic heavy metal band from that was formed in the 80's, but had their hey days in the 90's. Not really much to say about their style since it is pretty straight forward, nothing that surprising, only notable thing is that they sing in Spanish, but it does not really elevate their music that much.
Fast forward to modern times, and we can see that power and folk metal are the dominating genres, with Skiltron as the leader of the pack, a group that has five solid records of nice and enjoyable folk metal. Following right behind them are bands like Helker and Tersivel, maybe not the strongest brigade out there, but maybe worthy of a look nonetheless. I do wanna recommend Downfall of Nur as well, a fairly new atmospheric black metal project led by a guy who goes under the name "A.". I definitely see some potential in this striking music he has created so far, so it might be one to watch in the future.
From one country having problems to another one, Croatia has had a rocky way to this World Cup, firing their manager right before the crucial stages of their qualifying. Well, they made it, and it seems like they have gotten their shit together, offering a very impressive style of possession football, which is reasonable since they have a couple of midfield giants in Modric and Rakitic. I also love their striker Mandzukic, a very underrated goalscorer who have both the length and the technical skills to succeed against any opposition. This is a potential dark horse, a team that have the quality, but can they keep their stability throughout the tournament?
So the Balkan region is not the strongest threshold for metal, and it shows when I take a look at what Croatia has to offer. There is no real direction the bands are going in, and very few bands in here have produced enough music for a prolonged period of time. Most popular band is probably the gothic doom band Ashes You Leave, who have created six albums since 1998. They could be seen as a poor man's Epica, and that is honestly the nicest thing I can say about them. The rest of the field is not that impressive either, the industrial band Omega Lithium has some power to them, but has not released any new music since 2011, and Risen To Reclaim is a neat little heavy metal band that caught my attention with their 2014 effort "Paradox". But if we look a little further, we do find an interesting progressive rock band called Them Moose Rush that released an interesting new album this year in "Don't Pick Your Noise". So not many gems to be found here, unfortunately.
Ahh Iceland, the smallest country to ever qualify to the World Cup. We all fell in love with them two years ago when they made Ronaldo and England look helpless. This is the definition of team work, 11 guys on the pitch with viking spirit, helping each other out with every bit of strength their bodies can produce. Sure, they might not have the most exciting style, but you must realize that a lot of these players are not really professionals, they have other jobs besides being national heroes. I just love watching these guys, proving time and time again that nothing is impossible in the game of football.
So being a part of the Nordic union together with Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, Iceland sure loves their metal too, especially black metal. The big star in the sky is obviously Sólstafir, who in recent years have become one of the juggernaut in the atmospheric black metal scene. With albums like "Köld", "Ótta", and "Berdreyminn" the trio of Svavar Austman, Aðalbjörn Tryggvason, and Sæþór Maríus Sæþórsson (god damn, I do not even know how to start pronouncing that mess) have created an institution of quality.
Right behind them, we got a bunch of other black metal acts that have gotten some nice recognition along their careers. Just to name a few, we got Skálmöld, Kontinuum, Árstíðir Lífsins, and... what the hell? They honest to god have a band that is just a symbol, maybe called Null or Void, but it is literally just a big ring that is acting like a symbol. Oh well, one thing is for sure though, if you want some quality black metal, Iceland is a good choice.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria has been a main stay in the World Cup, but the successes have not really been there. Main reasons for this is probably that they are close to the perfect opposite to Iceland. Nigeria is always a "team" filled with a lot of individual talent, but they never seem to mesh well together, not even the great team builder Lars Lagerbäck, the man behind the success of Iceland, could make Nigeria act like a team. One thing is certain though, Nigeria is a dangerous team when everything is aligned correctly, they can certainly take advantage with players like Moses, Ighalo, Iwobi, and the old veteran John Obi Mikel. Rise, Super Eagles, Rise.
Well, this is where I would write about Nigeria's metal scene, but there is only one small problem, there is none. Yep, despite the incredibly massive and expansive library that we possess in Encyclopaedia Metallum, no bands from Nigeria is listed, and I tried a simple Google search as well that only led me to this article in some site called Audio Inferno. There definitely seem to be a rock scene in Nigeria, but taking that next step towards metal seems to be a steep task. I am not that surprised though to be honest, since the culture in Africa is completely different (which we obviously have noticed in previous installments of this series), but finding out that no bands are out there is interesting. Maybe in the future, maybe...
Thoughts on group
Despite its size, Iceland is obviously the big gun in this group, and it all comes down to culture. Coming from a remote, cold island where you basically know the entire population, it does stuff to you. It is really cool though to see the growth that Iceland has had during the new millennium. Cannot say too much abut the rest of the group though, the remaining three countries have very little to show for.
Prediction on the competition (made before the competition began)
Despite the problems, Argentina should squeeze their way through to the round of 16. Second slot is wide open though, and I am a firm believer in team work. LET'S GO ICELAND!!!