Dead Skeletons & Guile – Birmingham – live review

Dead Skeletons and Guile
The End, Birmingham
2 October 2012

Live review

Iceland’s Dead Skeleton are an enigma of a band – part art, part anarchy and part band. It all comes together in an onslaught of sound and a space rock groove.

Cannock band Guile made the short journey down the M6 to support Dead Skeletons, bringing their dark, psychedelic blues, now revved up to another level with the addition of new bassist Matt Hodgkiss.

Sounding more muscular and fluid, Guile continue to walk it like they talk it – serving up their rock n roll with the swagger of true believers. Kicking off with the compelling Devil in Black and bookending their six song set with an extended, reinvigorated Deep By The Dockery segueing into scorching finality of Alone On The West, Guile’s songs continue to grow and develop a life of their own, just as great songs should.

Guile’s debut, Alone On The West, remains a fine introduction to the band, but as songs like You Kill, We Dream suggest there is a lot more to be hewn from the sonic coalfields of South Staffordshire by this criminally under-rated band.

After an inauspicious start, having to abandon their first attempt at starting their set as howling on-stage feedback forced the band to stop in unison, clamping hands to their ears, Iceland’s Dead Skeletons settled into their space rock groove.

With a video monitor and painting stage front, Dead Skeletons feel part band, part visual art installation, part (anarchist?) collective. Which is no surprise as Dead Skeletons main man Jón Sæmundur Auðarson is just that – an artist using Dead Skeletons as one aspect of his expression, as he defiantly celebrates life, having out lived the death sentence he was given when first diagnosed as HIV positive. According to that prognosis, Auðarson should have been dead years ago.

Instead Dead Skeletons are serving up a surprisingly nuanced take on drone rock, which somehow feels like it should be witnessed being played from the back of a truck at an illegal rave in the ’90s.

Part Hawkwind, part Suicide and with more than a dash of Krautrock, Dead Skeletons don’t do nice three minute verse/chorus/verse pop songs. Their stock in trade is punishing, relentless riffing to a point somewhere in the middle distance, with light and shade provided by some subtle guitar motifs, keyboards that hint at that ’90s rave culture and additional percussion that just gives an added layer of subtlety to the juggernaut rhythm.

All words and image by macthehack. You can read more from him on LTW here.

Previous articleRobert Soko ‘Balkan Beats SoundLab’ – album review
Next articleDodgy Northern Soul Launch
Part time punk (retired), sometime freelance scribbler on music, sport and television, when not trying to hold down a day job. Jaundiced views and biased rants available on an irregular basis at


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here