Thor's Hammer (band)

Last updated

Thor's Hammer, or Hljómar, was an Icelandic rock band primarily active in the 1960s. Outside of Iceland, they are known among music collectors for their rare releases on Parlophone, sung in English and recorded in London for export. The most famous of these is the 1966 EP Umbarumbamba, regarded as one of the rarest released records in the world[ citation needed ] and known to fetch prices into the thousands of dollars when a copy surfaces. Their style can be described as garage rock, fuzz rock, and freakbeat, with noticeable influences from both The Who and The Beatles.

Iceland island republic in Northern Europe

Iceland is a Nordic island country in the North Atlantic, with a population of 348,580 and an area of 103,000 km2 (40,000 sq mi), making it the most sparsely populated country in Europe. The capital and largest city is Reykjavík, with Reykjavík and the surrounding areas in the southwest of the country being home to over two-thirds of the population. Iceland is volcanically and geologically active. The interior consists of a plateau characterised by sand and lava fields, mountains, and glaciers, and many glacial rivers flow to the sea through the lowlands. Iceland is warmed by the Gulf Stream and has a temperate climate, despite a high latitude just outside the Arctic Circle. Its high latitude and marine influence keep summers chilly, with most of the archipelago having a tundra climate.

Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United Kingdom and in the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily on the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly on a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.

Musical ensemble group of people who perform instrumental and/or vocal music, with the ensemble typically known by a distinct name

A musical ensemble, also known as a music group or musical group, is a group of people who perform instrumental or vocal music, with the ensemble typically known by a distinct name. Some music ensembles consist solely of instruments, such as the jazz quartet or the orchestra. Some music ensembles consist solely of singers, such as choirs and doo wop groups. In both popular music and classical music, there are ensembles in which both instrumentalists and singers perform, such as the rock band or the Baroque chamber group for basso continuo and one or more singers. In classical music, trios or quartets either blend the sounds of musical instrument families or group together instruments from the same instrument family, such as string ensembles or wind ensembles. Some ensembles blend the sounds of a variety of instrument families, such as the orchestra, which uses a string section, brass instruments, woodwinds and percussion instruments, or the concert band, which uses brass, woodwinds and percussion.



Formed in Keflavik in 1963 under the name Hljómar (literally "Chords"), they soon became popular in Iceland at a time when local rock music was a rarity. By the mid-1960s they were recording in London on Parlophone Records for the international market, including the legendary EP Umbarumbamba, now a valuable collector's item. This record was recorded as a tie-in with a movie starring the band also entitled Umbarumbamba, but the film was not a success. [1] From these sessions also came the singles "Once" and "If You Knew". The band even attempted a single entitled "Stay" in the United States on Columbia Records, which was produced by John Simon, known for his work with The Band and Big Brother and the Holding Company's album Cheap Thrills with Janis Joplin.

Columbia Records American record label; currently owned by Sony Music Entertainment

Columbia Records is an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, the North American division of Japanese conglomerate Sony. It was founded in 1887, evolving from the American Graphophone Company, the successor to the Volta Graphophone Company. Columbia is the oldest surviving brand name in the recorded sound business, and the second major company to produce records. From 1961 to 1990, Columbia recordings were released outside North America under the name CBS Records to avoid confusion with EMI's Columbia Graphophone Company. Columbia is one of Sony Music's four flagship record labels, alongside former longtime rival RCA Records, as well as Arista Records and Epic Records.

John Simon is an American music producer, composer, writer and performer. Recognized as one of the top record producers in the United States during the late 1960s and the 1970s, Simon produced numerous classic albums that continue to sell more than 50 years later, including The Band’s Music from Big Pink, The Band, and The Last Waltz, Cheap Thrills by Big Brother & the Holding Company featuring Janis Joplin, Songs of Leonard Cohen by Leonard Cohen, and Child Is Father to the Man by Blood, Sweat & Tears.

The Band rock band from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, North America, America, Earth

The Band was a Canadian-American roots rock group including Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, Richard Manuel, Robbie Robertson, and Levon Helm. The members of the Band first came together as rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins's Toronto, Ontario-based backing group, The Hawks, which they joined one by one between 1958 and 1963.

In 1969 a number of Thor's Hammer members went on to form the prog-flavored band Trúbrot, which recorded four albums until itself splitting in 1973.

Trúbrot were an Icelandic psychedelic/progressive rock band active in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Continual interest in the band among collectors of 1960s rock music lead to the 2001 Ace Records compilation album From Keflavik With Love, which collects all of the band's English-language output, including the tracks from Umbarumbamba, "Once", "If You Knew", and "Stay", as well as a number of their Icelandic tracks.

Rúnar Júlíusson died on 5 December 2008 at the age of 63 after going into cardiac arrest.

Cardiac arrest sudden stop in effective blood flow due to the failure of the heart to contract effectively

Cardiac arrest is a sudden loss of blood flow resulting from the failure of the heart to effectively pump. Symptoms include loss of consciousness and abnormal or absent breathing. Some individuals may experience chest pain, shortness of breath, or nausea before cardiac arrest. If not treated within minutes, it typically leads to death.

Thor's Hammer should not be confused with the American metal band Thorr's Hammer, or the Polish NSBM band also named Thor's Hammer. None of the three are related. The group's collected work is featured on the anthology, From Keflavík, With Love, released in 2001 on Big Beat Records.

Thorrs Hammer

Thorr's Hammer was an American-Norwegian death-doom band.

National Socialist black metal, is a political philosophy within black metal music that promotes Nazism or similar ideologies. NSBM artists typically combine neo-Nazi ideology with ethnic European paganism and opposition to "foreign" religions such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism. However, some artists are Satanists or occultists, rather than pagans. NSBM is not seen as a distinct genre, but as a neo-völkisch movement within black metal. According to Mattias Gardell, NSBM musicians see this ideology as "a logical extension of the political and spiritual dissidence inherent in black metal".

<i>From Keflavík, With Love</i> 2001 album

From Keflavík, With Love is a retrospective anthology issued in 2001 by Big Beat Records consisting of twenty songs by Thor's Hammer (Hljómar), a 1960s garage rock and beat group from Iceland who were one of the best-known Icelandic groups during the era. Though they worked with different producers on various labels, Thor's Hammer sound is best-typified by the tough, aggressive fuzz-drenched rockers they recorded in London for Parlophone Records in 1966, such as "I Don't Care," "My Life," "Better Days," and "The Big Beat Country Dance", and "If You Knew". While the lyrics to most of their songs were sung in English, several tracks were recorded in their native Icelandic, such as "Fyrsti Kossinn", "Ef Hún Er Nálægt Mér", and "Ertu Med", which was covered by the Savages on their Live 'n Wild album. Some of the tracks from Thor's Hammer's final period in the late 1960s, such as "Stay", show the group stretching their sound stylistically, augmenting certain arrangements with keyboards and horns. At his time, Thor's Hammer moved into a more eclectic direction, but they broke up in 1969, with several of their members going on to join the progressive rock group, Trubrot.

Band members


Studio albums
Compilation albums
Singles and EPs

Related Research Articles

The Action were an English band of the 1960s, formed as The Boys in August 1963, in Kentish Town, North West London. They were part of the mod subculture, and played soul music-influenced pop music.

The Merseybeats are a band that emerged from the Liverpool Merseybeat scene in the early 1960s, performing at The Cavern Club along with the Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers and other similar artists.

The Troggs band

The Troggs are an English garage rock band formed in Andover, Hampshire in May 1964. They had a number of hits in the United Kingdom and the United States. Their most famous songs include the US chart-toppers "Wild Thing", "With a Girl Like You" and "Love Is All Around", all of which sold over 1 million copies and were awarded gold discs. "Wild Thing" is ranked #257 on the Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and was an influence on garage rock and punk rock.

The Hollies English pop group formed in Manchester in the early 1960s

The Hollies are a British pop/rock group best known for their pioneering and distinctive three-part vocal harmony style. The Hollies became one of the leading British groups of the 1960s and into the mid 1970s. It was formed by Allan Clarke and Graham Nash in 1962 as a Merseybeat-type music group in Manchester, although some of the band members came from towns further north in East Lancashire. Graham Nash left the group in 1968 to form the supergroup Crosby, Stills & Nash.

Steve Miller Band American rock band

The Steve Miller Band is an American rock band formed in 1966 in San Francisco, California. The band is led by Steve Miller on guitar and lead vocals. The group is best known for a string of (mainly) mid- to late-1970s hit singles that are staples of classic rock radio, as well as several earlier psychedelic rock albums. Miller left his first band to move to San Francisco and form the Steve Miller Blues Band. Shortly after Harvey Kornspan negotiated the band’s contract with Capitol Records in 1967, the band shortened its name to the Steve Miller Band. In February 1968, the band recorded its debut album, Children of the Future. It went on to produce the albums Sailor, Brave New World, Your Saving Grace, Number 5, Rock Love and more. The band's Greatest Hits 1974–78, released in 1978, sold over 13 million copies. In 2016, Steve Miller was inducted as a solo artist in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Rock and roll is a style of popular American music which has spread across the world, including to the North Atlantic island nation of Iceland.

Simon Dupree and the Big Sound were a Scottish psychedelic band formed in 1966 by brothers, Derek Shulman (vocals), Phil Shulman, and Ray Shulman ; also known for their later prog rock band, Gentle Giant.

Guðlaugur Kristinn Óttarsson is an Icelandic musician.

<i>Rokk í Reykjavík</i> (soundtrack) 1982 album

Rokk í Reykjavík was the soundtrack to the Icelandic TV documentary directed by Friðrik Þór Friðriksson during 1981-82 winter and released in 1982.
The soundtrack, which was released in April 1982 as a 2 LP released through Hugrenningur, features the performances of several Icelandic bands of the post-punk/new wave scene.
Bands such as Þeyr, Tappi Tíkarrass, Purrkur Pillnikk, among others, were considered some of the most important bands at the moment.
The image cover for this release is a picture of singer Björk performing with Tappi Tíkarrass.

<i>Mjötviður til Fóta</i> album by Þeyr

Mjötviður til Fóta was an album released in 2001 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the creation of Þeyr, one of Iceland’s most important bands of the early eighties.

"Hjálpum þeim" is a song recorded in 1986 by several of the most popular musicians of Iceland to gather funds in order to combat poverty in Africa.
"Hjálpum þeim" contained only the title song and it was rerecorded again in 2005 under the name of "Hjálpum þeim 2005", and then again in English in 2011 under the name "Help Them 2011" because of the crisis in Eastern Africa.

The Blues Project band

The Blues Project is a band from the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City that was formed in 1965 and originally split up in 1967. Their songs drew from a wide array of musical styles. They are most remembered as one of the most artful practitioners of pop music, influenced as it was by folk, blues, rhythm & blues, jazz and the pop music of the day.

<i>Volume 3</i> (The Easybeats album) 1966 studio album by The Easybeats

Volume 3 is a studio album by the Australian rock band The Easybeats, released on 3 November 1966. It was the third and final album from the group recorded in Australia before relocating to England.

Neon Rose was a hard rock band from Sweden.

<i>Hammer and Tongs</i> album by Goodbye Mr. Mackenzie

Hammer and Tongs is the second album from the Scottish rock group Goodbye Mr Mackenzie. It was recorded in Germany in 1989, at Berlin's Hansa Ton Studios just as the Fall of the Berlin Wall occurred. The album sat on the shelf for almost 18 months, in which time the band were transferred across EMI record labels, from Capitol to Parlophone, who released two singles from the album in 1990. Parlophone sold the band's record deal to Radioactive Records and MCA, who released Hammer and Tongs in the United Kingdom in early 1991 and encouraged the band to record a new song "Now We Are Married" to promote the release.

The Rattles band

The Rattles are a German rock band, formed in Hamburg in 1960, most prominently known for their 1970 psychedelic hit single, "The Witch".

Mad River was an American psychedelic rock band.

Varúð single by Sigur Rós

"Varúð" is a song written and recorded by Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós for their sixth studio album, Valtari. It appears as the third track on the album. The song was released as the second official single from the album on August 21, 2012 on a 10" gramophone record in support of their then-current Sigur Rós World Tour. It is also notably the first release by Sigur Rós under XL Recordings after the liquidation of EMI and the selling of its subsidiaries, including Sigur Rós' then-current label Parlophone. The song was used as a backing for an interpretive dance in the thirteenth season finale of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.