Solefald - _Norrøn Livskunst_
(Indie Recordings, 2010)
by: Kostas Sarampalis (9.5 out of 10)
Take a neon pill and filter it linearly and harmoniously through fire and death on a red scaffold, and what you get is _Norrøn Livskunst_. Now swallow it whole with a shot of fire lit vodka and enjoy the best trip Solefald have ever taken you on. Because this, my sophisticated ladies and gentlemen, is the culmination of fifteen years of wild and crazy dips into the cold unknown waters of musical and thematic experimentation. This, my philosophical freaks, is one hell of an album.

You would think that Solefald would have mellowed down by now; not in terms of musical heaviness, but in terms of their need to push things further. Then again, _Norrøn Livskunst_ is perhaps both head and tail in the band's uroboric development. If you never liked this Norwegian duo, do not expect a sudden shift in your opinion (but do check your taste buds, for something is certainly amiss). If, however, you always had a thing for Cornelius' and Lars' output, then you are in for a treat.

"Song Til Stormen" draws the listener in with its slow paced guitars and the first example of the vocal melodies that this album excels in. "Norrøn Livskunst" is harsh and very fast, where the fantastically playful "Tittentattenteksti" allows guest female vocalist Agnete Kjolsrud (the same singer that did the guest vocals in "Gateways" from the latest Dimmu Borgir) to go apeshit (in conjunction with Cornelius' equally batshit lyrics). This song is so deliciously crazy and infectious that it is almost the highlight of the album.

Song after song, Solefald never falter this time round. Present again are all the quirks and intricacies the band has gotten us used to, yet none of the pitfalls. And I mean none, assuming of course you like highly intelligent experimental black metal. The album simply never loses momentum and there is nary a dull moment to be found. Even in rehashing their Icelandic Saga in "Waves Over Vallhalla (An Icelandic Odyssey Part 3)", they do it with flair and gusto that was mostly missing from the previous two albums. Where "Eukalyptustreet" offers a mellow and introspective side, "Raudedauden" gets more black metal heavy than you can throw a Swede at. And "Vitets Vidd I Verdi", with another contribution from Agnete and some sax and cymbals thrown in for good measure, is just a step before the anthemic "Hugferdi".

If it is not clear by now, _Norrøn Livskunst_ is an album that takes everything that is great about Solefald, all the previous ideas and experience, every single step taken in seemingly scattershot directions in the past (a false statement if one ever was), and brings them back home. Cohesive and surprising, exploding and exploring, violent and sensitive, all in equal measure, make for Solefald's best album to date. If, like me, it took you exactly thirty nine minutes and eighteen seconds to close your mouth while listening _The Linear Scaffold_ for the first time thirteen years ago, then do yourself a favour and surprise and delight yourself once again with _Norrøn Livskunst_.


(article published 14/12/2010)

4/13/1998 P Azevedo Solefald: Unifying the Musical Extremes
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
6/30/2003 P Azevedo 8.5 Solefald - In Harmonia Universali
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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