Sólstafir - Masterpiece Of Bitterness
Spikefarm Records
7 songs (70:18)
Release year: 2005
Spikefarm Records
Reviewed by Misha

Originality is a concept misunderstood in the wide genre that is metal. It’s like these goth kids, they all think they are different but in the end, they all look the same. We can be glad though, that sometimes a band tries to sound different. Not generically different, but experimentally different. Sólstafir is close to being one of such bands, however drawing influence from Neurosis, they manage to add something truly of their own.

Sólstafir started as a black metal band and seems to walk a path similar to that of In The Woods, but in a slightly different direction. While the main genre of this record could be that of doom, there is definitely a lot more at work. Viking influences are undeniable, but strangely there is also a firm influence from fellow Icelanders Sigur Rós. A track like Ritual Of Fire actually creates a mood that makes one expect the semi-shoegaze vocals of Birgisson, the post-rockers’ vocalist, to start on every new repetition. Throughout the album, simple post-rockish crescendos can be found, which work quite effectively nonetheless. The climaxes are usually faster pieces of viking metal, quite primitive, yet very heavy and powerful.

Respectively to what it is, this album is not inaccessible. The slow parts might be stretched out, songs might be clocking over fifteen minutes, structures might be close to indiscernible, but still the heaviness and strangely catching riffage is well able to hold the attention of the untrained listener. Another element that might have had a hand in this is the vocal performance. Although not very high in the mix, and not always present (points which both add to my quote for this album), the vocals press a very distinctive mark upon the silver disk. They are powerful, sorrowful and from an echoing distance. They are very well capable of handling the different moods of this album, for moods are diverse here, which brings me to the next issue. The album moves through different moods like an emotional mountain landscape. Sometimes gloomy, sometimes aggressive, yet always convincing, guitars, drums and vocals uniformly proclaim the message of this album: bitterness.

As I stated before, this album is highly original when measured in metal standards. I can be confident saying that it will appeal to fans of Opeth as well as Pelican, early In The Woods as well as Primordial, while it actually does not sound like any of them. The album might be heavy in appearance, but is in fact pretty light in essence. Sólstafir truly created something special here, I do not know if I would go as far as masterpiece, but one thing is for sure: although the production is of higher quality, these men know how ram their feelings in your throat.

Killing Songs :
All but especially Ritual Of Fire and Nature Strutter.
Misha quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Sólstafir that we have reviewed:
Sólstafir - Berdreyminn reviewed by Alex and quoted 88 / 100
Sólstafir - Ótta reviewed by Jared and quoted 78 / 100
Sólstafir - Í Blóði og Anda (reissue) reviewed by Jared and quoted 72 / 100
Sólstafir - Svartir Sandar reviewed by Jaime and quoted 81 / 100
Sólstafir - Kold reviewed by Charles and quoted 83 / 100
3 readers voted
You did not vote yet.
Vote now

There are 5 replies to this review. Last one on Wed Mar 08, 2006 6:30 am
View and Post comments