Sólstafir - _Köld_
(Spikefarm / Ranka Recordings, 2009)
by: Kostas Sarampalis (10 out of 10)
Woa. Hold the fucking horses. Much for last sentence's lack of elegance, so was 2009 lacking in interesting releases (for the most part). Or so I thought until I heard _Köld_ in the first miserable day of the new working year. Even though Sólstafir have been around for fifteen years, this is my first exposure to this Icelandic foursome. They started with a blend of Viking Black metal, which they evolved into a progressive post black metal psychedelic doom, not unlike Enslaved.

In fact, if there is a recent album one can draw parallels with Sólstafir's _Köld_, that would be _Vertebrae_ -- but less psychedelic and much more rocking. Opening with the instrumental "78 Days in the Desert", the album instantly engages the listener. Multi-layered guitars, expressive drumming and lots of atmosphere. "Köld" comes next and is one of the best songs of the album. There is so much pathos injected in there, so much energy and emotion over its nine minutes, that it leaves you absolutely stunned and speechless. The vocals are harsh, but sang and not screamed, and are perfectly appropriate for the style. "Pale Rider" and "She Destroys Again" rock your socks off, before "Necrologue" infuses some calm introspection to the album.

At times I think that this is what Godspeed You! Black Emperor would sound like if they were (much) harsher. "World Void of Souls" and closing track "Goddess of the Ages" are closer to the post-rock sound of the aforementioned Canadian ensemble, yet filtered through the doom and black past of the Icelanders. There is not a single note out of place or wasted, and that is no mean feat for an album that clocks on just over seventy minutes. The production is suitably dirty, yet you can hear all the guitar layers and all the instruments perfectly clearly. The drums are faded enough to not overpower, since they are constantly thundering and often follow patterns all of their own.

Aðalbjörn Tryggvason's vocals deserve a special mention. They gel with the music very well and he manages to convey emotion with his voice. Angst, passion, anger, bitterness, he sings both in English and his native Icelandic language, which I have to admit sounds very interesting and more colourful than the rest of the Nordic languages one normally hears in metal.

I know I sometimes label one too many albums as unique, but in this desolate desert that the metal scene is currently deposited due to saturation and lack of imagination (or skill), when albums like _Köld_ appear, one has to scream and shout in support, in the vain hope that some will take notice. Since swearing raises many an eyebrow in our politically correct society, I'll finish by saying that this album is absolutely fucking brilliant.

Contact: http://solstafir.net/

(article published 13/1/2010)


ALBUMS
5/2/2015 J Semprich 9 Sólstafir - Ótta
4/11/2003 Q Kalis 8 Sólstafir - Black Death
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