Tuesday, October 11, 2011

If you still haven't heard this band, please do so now.

I just watched the Icelandic crime thriller Jar City. A brilliant film, as bleak as a Caspar David Friedrich painting stripped of any hint of redemption. It's Tragic in the true sense of the word, since it deals with the sickness and contradiction twisted into the skeins of fate by the Norns. There's never been too much black metal out of Iceland, but if you watch this movie you will learn something about black metal. Or, rather, you'll learn something about what black metal is about. The soundtrack consists almost entirely of chilling funeral hymns. It's streaming on Netflix right now, so you really have no excuse.

It was hard for me not to be reminded of the Icelandic band Solstafir, whose 2009 Kold is one of the finest black metal albums released in the past decade. Indeed, it's probably one of the best black metal albums since 1996. And even if we trace the genre back to its origins, it's difficult to find art that matches up to this.

The catch is that, by the standards of many, this isn't black metal at all. If you think of Kold only in terms of its style--the sum of its various formal elements--it's probably much closer to the epic goth rock of Fields of The Nephilim, The Sisters of Mercy, and Disintegration-era Cure, not to mention balls-out rock'n'roll from Neil Young to Motorhead. There's certainly a huge black metal influence in the riffs and the sense of harmony that underpins them, but it's secondary to the...

You know what? Fuck it. What I just wrote looks SO fucking petty, so fucking "music critic" compared to the sound of "Pale Rider" blasting through my headphones. So I'll review this some other time, in the dead of winter, when I can do it justice. For now, I leave you with this line from the spoken introduction to Solstafir's "World Void of Souls:"

"The daylight only lasts for a couple of hours. So I haven't seen any colors for a couple of weeks."


  1. You got that right on the Fields Of The Nephilim reference, I saw these guys open for Kvelertak last year and they go the whole Neph flour-on-leather-trousers-and-rockstar-posturing route... Really didn't enjoy them at all, but this Pale Rider track is Very Good. I'll give them another go.

  2. their new album is really good, if you haven't listened to it already: http://www.inferno.fi/inferno-tarjoaa-kuuntele-uusi-solstafir-levy-6155/.

  3. @Anon: Sick! I only actually heard about it yesterday, didn't even realize my post had been timed so well. thanks for the link. expect a review in the coming week.

  4. Yes, please. Really enjoy this music.

    Pavel, have you ever listened to FORGOTTEN WOODS? Amazing Norwegian black metal, similar in musical execution- winding, cold riffs built around swirling emptiness and sadness. FORGOTTEN WOODS are more metallic and werewolfy, though. One of my very favorite bands (their first two LPs, at least).

  5. @Ido: Yes, I love Forgotten Woods! Not surprised you like them, they definitely have a huge goth influence, not to mention a veiled undertone of Oi!. I only have the "Sjel Av Natten" EP, which is brilliant, so I guess I need to get those first 2 LPs, huh? In fact, Noktorn and I were just talking about me doing an F.W. post soon, so thanks for the reminder.

  6. You can get "As the Wolves Gather", their first LP, on my blog. I suggest you do that before posting.