Solefald - _In Harmonia Universali_
(Century Media, 2003)
by: Pedro Azevedo (8.5 out of 10)
Having released a superb debut album (_The Linear Scaffold_) and a virtually indigestible follow-up (_Neonism_), Solefald recovered to a large extent from that faux pas with 2001's relatively simple but effective _Pills Against the Ageless Ills_. This time we are no longer treated to the yarns of Pornographer Cain and Philosopher Fuck (the two characters from _PAtAI_), but you can rest assured Solefald's creativity is as vibrant and unbridled as ever. Contrary to what happened in the past, _In Harmonia Universali_ sounds much like an amalgam of Solefald's previous albums -- with yet more elements thrown in, of course.

The seven minute long masterful album opener "Nutrisco et Extinguo" shows that there's often more to describe in a single Solefald song than in many a band's entire album: starting with Ulver-like acoustics and whispered Norwegian words that bode well for what's to come, it also includes brilliantly integrated saxophone segues and an outstanding doomy section with slow piano, as well as a variety of riffs, keyboard work and vocal approaches -- and it all makes sense together. An amazing track, and although this level of consecutive brilliance is never quite repeated, the first half of the album remains on a superb quality level most of the time. "Mont Blanc Providence Crow" harks back to the more rocking _Pills Against the Ageless Ills_ in fine form; "Christiania (E. Munch Commemoration)" contributes three different languages (English, French and German) and some innovative choirs and synths; "Epictetus & Irreversibility" speaks of dichotomy with its blackening and softening; and "Dionysify This Night of Spring" contains another catchy chorus and a masterful mid-section crescendo.

Indeed, _IHU_ moves along extremely well until just over its midpoint, when track six (the inventive instrumental "Red Music Diabolos") finishes. At this stage the listener has already been bombarded with a huge array of musical twists and turns, four languages, and a multitude of styles and feelings -- only a mere sample of which is described above. From this instrumental track onwards, however, the last four tracks (especially "Buy My Sperm") seem a bit lacklustre compared to the superb first six and end up dragging the overall rating down a notch. Still, not everything is a waste on these tracks, with good moments on "Fraternité de la Grande Lumière" (the doomy mid-section) and "The Liberation of Destiny" (the occasional fast bits).

As ever before, the listener is likely to often feel teased, and sometimes even mocked, by the music of this remarkably (over)educated Norwegian duo. Most of the time the listener will almost certainly believe he is eating a highly delectable meat roll that Solefald have carefully prepared, but every now and again he will be forced to wonder whether what he is eating isn't actually his own brain, finely chopped and palatably seasoned by the grinning Cornelius and Lazare. Whichever the case, this is a dish that demands patience and attention to detail in order to reveal all its hidden flavours, ultimately offering up some fine rewards to those who persevere. Solefald remain one of the most unique bands around, and when, in spite of some inconsistency, they really get it right, they can achieve great things.


(article published 30/6/2003)

4/13/1998 P Azevedo Solefald: Unifying the Musical Extremes
12/14/2010 K Sarampalis 9.5 Solefald - Norrøn Livskunst
11/28/2006 K Sarampalis 8 Solefald - Black for Death: An Icelandic Odyssey Part 2
11/7/2005 N Shahpazov 6 Solefald - Red for Fire: An Icelandic Odyssey Part 1
10/19/2001 P Azevedo 8 Solefald - Pills Against the Ageless Ills
10/12/1999 P Azevedo 6 Solefald - Neonism
3/10/1998 P Azevedo 9 Solefald - The Linear Scaffold
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