The best Danish bands you’ve (maybe) never heard of

Lukas Graham’s steady climb up the international music charts (‘7 Years’ as at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 for the second week running) may be putting Denmark on the global music map but the country is still arguably not known as a hotbed of fantastic musical acts.

Asked about Danish music, most people outside of the country might only be able to offer up ‘Barbie Girl’ or one-fourth of Metallica as examples, but there is in fact an exceptional feast of incredible Danish sounds that has seemingly evaded many people’s musical radar.

Here, in no particular order, is a little sample of some fantastic talent coming out of the crooks and crannies of Denmark.

1. Iceage

The Copenhagen band, formed in 2008, has captured that energetic youthful abandon with their unique punk-rock/noise-rock/post-hard-core sound. Iceage’s first album ‘New Brigade’, released in 2011, was a ragged hack and slash punk album that encapsulated that adolescent ‘screw it’ attitude. But, like many seminal 90s post-punk/shoe-gaze bands like Sonic Youth and Pavement, Iceage honed in on a unique well-constructed sound on their 2014 album ‘Plowing into a Field of Love’. If Iceage’s albums leave you lusting after more of singer Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s whisky and Marlboro infused vocals, check out his side project ‘Marching Church‘. Fans of Nirvana, Joy Division and Sonic Youth will certainly be in for a Danish treat with this Copenhagen band.

2. Under Byen

One of the things Denmark is widely known for are the ‘Scandinavian Noir’ crime dramas such as ‘Broen’ (The Bridge) and ‘Forbrydelsen’ (The Killing). The dark, melancholic undercurrents that have become so synonymous with Danish drama are gloriously exuded by the Aarhus-band Under Byen (Below the City). Aarhus locals Katrine Stochholm and Henriette Sennenvaldt formed the experimental post-rock band back in 1995 and by 2003 former senior editor of Rolling Stone David Fricke had called them the best band in the world. Though the statement is contestable, Under Byen certainly have a unique atmospheric, sleek and intelligent sound that encapsulates those long Scandinavian winters succinctly.

3) Manus Nigra

The trio from Aarhus effortlessly blend a variety of musical genres to create a multi-layered soundscape. The band released their first self-titled album in 2015 and the hip-hop/trip hop/soul trio have slowly been making waves in the Danish music scene. Manus Nigra’s unique sound comes from the combination of lead vocalist Fönix’s classical training, melded seamlessly with freestyle veteran Ham Den Lange and producer DJ Swab bringing plethora of knowledge from more than 15 years’ experience in the music industry.

4. Felix De Luca
Depending on who you ask, Felix Da Luca is one of the most on-form rappers in Denmark at the moment.  De Luca raps in English with a style that would be at home on the mammoth American hip-hop market. His latest release ‘Valentine’ encapsulates all the elements of Felix De Luca, with its spooky, teasing groove and rapid-fire lyrics.
5. Myrkur
Myrkur (Icelandic for darkness) is an atmospheric black metal project that sounds like a chariot ride to hell on a carriage drawn by swans. A love-her-or-loathe-her polarizing figure within the metal scene, Myrkur is the handiwork of Amalie Bruun (known for her modelling work in productions like Martin Scorsese’s Bleu De Chanel ad), Myrkur is dark, ethereal and compelling all at once.
6. Communions

Combining the fast paced energy of 70s punk with modern indie to create a sound that will resonate with fans of the post punk revival, Communions; first studio release ‘Cobblestones’ came out in 2014 and began the ball rolling for the Danish band who are now gaining recognition from the likes of music media giants Pitchfork and NME. The momentum has yet to subside as their new EP ‘Out Of My World’, released June 2015, received universal praise for the merging of indie-pop sensibilities with a sprinkling of punk rawness. Communions is most certainly a band to keep an eye and an ear on so you can be that person at a dinner party saying “I heard them before they were famous”, you little hipster.

7. Piss Vortex

With a name like that what is not to love about this Copenhagen grindcore band?! The name may create a mental image of a bottomless abyss of urine, but the four-piece have incorporated furious sounds with a subtle undercurrent of jazz composition to create a remarkably unique sound. Admittedly Piss Vortex’s visceral and aggressive sound may not be every single person’s cup of chai, but they were able to grab the attention of influential metal site Metal Sucks after releasing just two songs. If you are partial to fast-paced and aggressive music, don’t flush these guys away without a listen.

8. Suspekt
This hip-hop trio from Albertslund, just west of Copenhagen, have been making waves in the Danish music scene since their beginnings in 1999, culminating with a festival-closing performance on Roskilde’s Orange stage last summer. Suspekt’s explicit raps have sometimes earned them the ‘horrorcore’ label and their Danish-language rhymes aren’t your mainstream ‘hey mum you’ll love this song’ kind of music, but the group puts a unique take on a somewhat tired genre.
9. LSD on CIA
The humoursly-named LSA on CIA provide hedonistic thrash rock that is quickly gaining widespread European popularity. Their sophomore album, ‘Celestial Bodies’ has only just hit the shelves and is a work to behold. Watch out for the melodic mind-blowing efforts of Piotr Fronek, Troels Dankert and Mikkel Konyhe.
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More from The Local

10. Mont Oliver
A rarity amongst rarities, Mont Oliver’s music has shrewdly dodged appearing on Spotify so you’ll have to comb the net a bit more profoundly if you fancy a quick listen. The trio has a sound that borrows bits and pieces from pop, hip-hop, soul and indie and they’ve quickly built a name for themselves in Denmark and piqued interest from abroad.
This list of the best Denmark has to offer musically was compiled by Christopher Manion and Allan Mutuku-Kortbæk.

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