Sólstafir – Ótta – Season of Mist– Out Now
Iceland isn’t really known for having a big metal scene, so there’s extra pressure on the bands that are there to perform well. With nearly twenty years since its beginning Sólstafir more than qualifies as a well-performing band and especially with the fifth album “Ótta” coming out expectations were very high. It’s been out for about two weeks now and while it’s outside of my regular area of fake expertise it’s up to me to review this Icelandic glacier in audio form.
Aðalbjörn Tryggvason – guitar, vocals
Guðmundur Óli Pálmason – drums
Svavar Austmann – bass
Sæþór Maríus Sæþórsson – guitar
Dreamy, moody and at times explosive, that’s what Sólstafir’s new album sounds to me like. There aren’t really any standard song structures on here, it’s one big musical adventure. The big contrasts between heavy and fast on the one side and dreamy and slow on the other side make the difference all the more dramatic. Most bands would kick off their album with a explosion, yet Sólstafir choose to make a deceptively relaxed start with “Lágnætti”, yet they soon kick things into overdrive and the ruff vocals give the upbeat music that much more drama, with a keyboard leading the general line of the music. I’m afraid I have no idea who’s doing the electronics, but it’s safe to say that they’re contributing so much to the sound of the band. There’s a very ‘cold’ feeling to the album and when the music kicks it up a notch you often feel like you’re in the middle of a blizzard.
Personal favourite of mine is the title track “Ótta”, though I do have to admit that some parts of the songs do seem a bit interchangeable to me as a novice in this particular genre. That doesn’t mean that the songs all sound alike, because if you’d take “Dagmál” there’s so much more catchiness to it. It kind of reminds me of the stereotypical British indie band with its percussion. “Miðdegi” on the other hand has more of a garage rock feel to it, yet again it’s the keyboards setting a lot of the mood and giving it that much needed different feel.
The album ends on a very strong note with the eleven-minute long “Náttmál” where they sort of recap a lot of the previous songs, whilst still adding more to it.
It’s always interesting to something that you’re nearly completely unfamiliar with, but this first meeting with Sólstafir is a very pleasant one indeed. It’s moody, it’s melancholic and dreamy, yet has a healthy dosage of power and aggression as well. I wouldn’t call it accessible, but it’s most certainly something everyone should give a few spins to and just go with the flow!
Score: 4.3 out of 5
Text by: Robert Popovic