Review: Sólstafir – Köld (2009)

Dont’ be fooled by all the references to Sólstafir as having any relation to black metal. Sólstafir plays black metal the way bands like In The Woods or Manes used to play black metal – they did at one point but they sure as hell don’t anymore. But like the aforementioned bands, if you can get past the band’s unusual sound, you’ll find that Köld is every bit as rewarding a listen as any extreme metal album in your collection.

The music on Köld is rather difficult to describe, perhaps because there’s so much variation. It probably falls under the umbrella of progressive rock or metal, but without the fancy time signatures and sterile technicality that sometimes accompany that term. The instrumental opener ’78 Days in the Desert’ is an evocative, atmospheric piece that goes by surprisingly quickly. Other tracks like ‘Love is the Devil’ and ‘She Destroys Again’ are more uptempo, while ‘Necrologue’ and ‘World Void of Souls’ are somber and depressive.

While never overly heavy, the album is surprisingly powerful. The vocal approach, which probably takes the most getting used to, is generally a melodic hybrid of screaming and clean singing and helps inject more emotion into the music while still giving it a bit of an edge. Sólstafir also has a great ear for songwriting, adeptly mixing slow and contemplative passages with driving metal riffs. Perhaps the greatest testament to Köld‘s quality is that the songs seem to get better and better with each listen.

Ultimately this is one of those albums that you’ll probably either love or just not want to listen to at all. For the right kind of metal fan, this is definitely one of the most rewarding albums to come out this year.

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November 16, 2009 in Album Reviews

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