• 9.5/10
    SOLSTAFIR - Köld - 9.5/10


Release date: March 13, 2009

User Review
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The latest news from Iceland was not too positive: the state being close to bankruptcy, and only the international community could keep the country from a economic breakdown. Solstafir deliver the fitting soundtrack to that message conveying coldness, dark winters, and emotional turmoil. It is a coincidence, since the songs were already recorded in December 2007, but it still fits.

Originally, the band was considered to belong to the Black Metal genre. From that phase, absolutely nothing is left in Köld, maybe except for a few drum parts. What a development in 15 years and only three full studio albums, but if those one and a half decades culminate in such an album, the time was well spent for the musicians to achieve this kind of mastery, and for the listener because he can now enjoy an album which is certainly already a highlight for the Dark Metal genre.

After a long instrumental, the title track unveils that this album is no easy listen. Intense, like a wall of sound tumbling down upon the unexpected listener, “Köld” is a devastating cry for absolution, for redemption, and even though one does not understand what the band is saying, as the song is sung in the Icelandic language, a overwhelming feeling of desperation and longing washes through one’s mind, and soul. If you are not moved by this masterly composition, you must have a stone where your heart used to be. The track radiates beauty that is almost physical, touchable; a mind warming embrace that at the same time let’s you look into the abyss of dark emotions. And above it floats the moaning, wailing voice of Aðalbjörn Tryggvasons like a soaring condor high above the ice of the Andes lit by the last rays of a setting sun, colorful but still the harbinger of night and coldness. Whatever one does, inexorably darkness creeps in, while one tries to cling to the sunlight which slowly, oh so slowly moves away to leave behind the band and listener in a maelstrom of feelings.

During the course of the album, Solstafir switch nicely between up-tempo parts like in “Pale Rider” or “She Destroys Again” and melancholy like in the title track or “Necrologue”. The latter reaches its climax in “World Void Of Souls” where minimalistic psychedelic sounds paint an emotional landscape. In moments like this, the album reminds of masterpieces like Tiamat’s Wild Honey, My Dying Bride’s Angel And The Dark River or Anathema’s A Natural Disaster. And that is also the target group: If you like one of the albums just mentioned, go get this one, turn off the lights and up the volume and dive into this world of black and white, of darkness visible and light obscure, be moved by Solstafir. Even though towards the end a radiant ray of light omes forth in the form of “Love Is The Devil (And I Am In Love)” as it tears the fabric of desolation with straight riffing, a chorus and a solo that sticks out considerably. The wondrous moment is blown away as soon as the final track, “Goddess Of The Ages”, grips your heart, unrelenting, increasing the pressure slowly, constricting your chest to breathlessness, delivering a final, over 12 minute long look into the Hades of daily existence.

A few words have to be said about the production of the album. A deep, bass-heavy, warm sound is the final touch that lets one enjoy the album, where the guitars serve as a counterpoint and rip through layers of elusive contentment. This album is truly fantastic and deserves to put the four Icelanders on the Metal map for everybody. But mind you: It is not an easy album to consume, and certainly nothing to be listened to casually. It is an album that asks for your undivided attention. But it will not let you go again.


  • Frank Jaeger

    Frank was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Bavaria, Germany. He has worked in the games industry for more than 20 years, now on the manufacturing side, before on the publishing end. Before this, he edited and handled the layout for a city mag in northern Germany ... maybe that is why he love being part of anything published. Frank got hooked on Metal at the age of 14 when a friend introduced him to AC/DC. They were listening to The Beatles, Madness, and The Police, and he decided they should move on. Well, they did, Back in Black became Frank's first Metal album, and since Germany is reasonably close to England, they had some small New Waves Of British Heavy Metal washing up on their shores: Tygers Of Pan Tang, Samson, Gillan, Iron Maiden, Saxon, Sweet Savage, Diamond Head, etc. If he had to pick his favorite styles, Prog and Power Metal would be at the top of the list.

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