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Solefald - Neonism CD (album) cover



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Trickster F.
4 stars Solefald's most experimental and adventurous work.

'Post-Black' has been an adjective used to describe a certain sound or direction in heavy experimental music ever since the mid 90's. It was initially pioneered and adapted by Norwegian Black Metal groups (hence the -Black part), particularly by those who showed dismay towards the stagnancy of the genre or just an ambition, a wish to experiment outside of the borders set by the scene quite strictly. Solefald, a peculiar project of only two minds that in a way could be labeled as such, started their career and obviously had something urgent and innovative to let the music scene know. Nevertheless, while it can be said that their debut album The Linear Scaffold was a Post-Black album, the two musicians behind this eclectic collective strayed even further from any limits known to a Progressive Metal listener. The title "Avant-Garde", conveniently applied throughout time to art that goes both nowhere and everywhere, is a more suitable categorisation in this case.

Even prior to listening to the music itself, one will definitely notice the complete absence of Metal clichés in the album cover, song titles and lyrics, which deal with modern culture and society problems in a witty, clever way. What needs to be underlined once more is that Neonism is the group's most adventurous, chaotic and multi-genre work in their career. The album consists of ten tracks of various lengths, that are not only done in various style you would not expect a group of major Symphonic Prog tendencies or Black Metal to implement into their sound, but with most of the songs being abrupt and unpredictable to the highest extent. Symphonic prog, black metal, technical Prog-Metal, classical and jazz, which are not uncommon influences for musicians in Norway of the time, are joined with an unexpected presence of contemporary styles of modern music - which is shown in arrangements, as well as exploited vocal styles. Both Lazare and Cornellius have done their best at recording a variety of singing ways that would make Mike Patton's jaw drop. There are many kinds of clean singing, hardcore shouting, black metal rasps(at least three different types of them, in fact, the more you listen to the album, the more nuances you happen to notice), as well as rapping and reggaeton. The music is as fascinating to follow as anything I have heard before - the changes in tempo, mood and genre during just a single track are extremely sudden and make no sense at all on the initial listens. A Symphonic Black Metal part can be easily followed by a Drum'N'Bass beat with whispered vocals, done with such confidence, as if people have been playing music this way for centuries!

However, there would be little value within this album if it was just a nice cocktail of various contradictive styles, and this is the sphere where the musicians do not fail. In the spite of all the chaos, you can, although possibly not by a superficial approach, feel all the substance and thorough thinking put into the unconventional songwriting, which gifts the attentive listener with inspired, eerie and atmospheric moments from time to time (that are ruined by an awkward vocal style in accompaniment, but that is exactly the point), great riffs and amazing keyboard playing clearly influenced by the 70's Progressive Rock giants. Another aspect of Solefald's music worth pointing out is that the music does not seem clinical, academic or just surrealistic. There is an abundance of very memorable, catchy, at times even danceable, melodies and choruses (which after being repeated even twice will stay in your head forever), the best example of that being the immensely catchy

Neonism is definitely not the music for the average Prog fan, as elements of black metal, electronica and hip hop will be found to be particularly repulsive by many. However, there is so much creativity, intelligence, innovation and wit involved in both the songwriting and the lyrics that any listener who can cope with these elements, will find Neonism an enjoyable, fascinating experience. On the other hand, those who find that Neonism makes no sense and is way over the top, are free to look into other Solefald albums from the group's diverse discography, that tends to offer something for all kinds of progressive thinking listener.

Report this review (#93979)
Posted Tuesday, October 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Neonism is the second album from experimental norwegian metal band Solefald. Their debut was a pretty interesting album and Neonism continues to surprise. I must say itīs one of the most innovative metal albums I have heard in a long time. Solefald is a two man studio ( only) band that consists of COrnelius on vocals, guitar and bass and Lazare on vocals, Synthesizers and drums.

Solefald is influenced by many genres on Neonism and as a result the music can seem a bit inaccessible and strange at times. There are lots of black metal riffing ( of the melodic and symphonic sort) and black metal growling sneers, but there are also lots of clean singing. The vocals are pretty diverse which is a treat on Neonism. The songs have lots of sections so the music canīt be accused of being repetitive. The lyrics seem a bit foolish to me, but maybe the humour eludes me a bit.

I found some strange sources of inspiration in some of the songs I will mention just so you can get a picture of how diverse Solefald is on Neonism. The chorus to CK II Chanel N*6 ( which by the way has some of most stupid lyrics I have ever heard. I guess they are suppossed to be funny, but Iīm not laughing) reminds me of Rammstein if they sang in english while I can also hear influences from another german band called Depressive Age in some of the music. If you the experimental nature of Neonism you should also check out the last album from Depressive Age called Electric Scum. In Backpaka Baba I think the talking vocals sounds like Beck which is another witness to the diverse nature of the music.

The two musicians playing here are flawless. The are very good musicians.

The productions is good but nothing special.

Solefald has certainly evolved since their debut and even though this is clearly the same band playing the style is pretty different at times. I canīt say this is my favorite style or band for that matter but I will give 3 stars for the innovative nature of Solefaldīs music. I would start with the debut before listening to this one though.

Report this review (#173898)
Posted Saturday, June 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Neonism' - Solefald (6/10)

Norwegian metal duo Solefald's second album 'Neonism' was a massive change in style for this band. Although most typically associated with the black metal sound, Solefald can be heard really stretching out, taking influences from a wide array of styles and experimenting with how these widely contrasting sounds could be merged together as one. The album is still highly regarded by avant-garde metal afficionados, although hearing the music here, I do get the impression their ambitions outweighed their abilities.

'Neonism' has enough different angles, colours and tastes to it to make a rainbow feel bland. There are still some disparate black metal influences in the sound, but this songwriting is generally dense, melodic, and quirky, rather than atmospheric and dark. Solefald is clearly not interested in catering to the whims of a traditional black metal scene, there are vocal growls, howls, and rasps and even some riffs that are reminiscent of extreme metal sound, but you won't hear anything heavy here without it being followed up by something light-hearted. The clean vocals here are somewhat reminiscent of likeminded duo Vintersorg, although much more diverse. Here, a listener will hear both band members scream, croon, belt, and even pull off some spoken word sections. While listening to this, I am hearing a lot of very interesting ideas, but a large problem of 'Neonism's is that the ideas all seem to try to take the spotlight at once. The music feels dense, and almost as if there are two songs playing at once. This sense of disorientation in music can be done very well, but here it feels more haphazard than ingenious, and the thin production standard doe not help much either.

The lyrics here are another matter altogether. It's granted that one benefit of rampant experimentation is that one does not need to hold up to the same standards of more conventional bands, but it does not stop the fact that even after letting 'Neonism' sink in full, the lyrics feel awkward, jokey, and out-of-place. Solefald obviously attempts some sort of social critique here about consumerism and conformity, but it does not change the fact that rhymes here feel contrived and shallow, and- need I even mention- hearing the name Calvin Klein in a song, and then comparing him to a god sounds like the work of a prankster... or a genius, but I'm going to go with prankster.

'Neonism' does not seem to be an album that takes itself entirely seriously, and this has both positive and negative ramifications. It is an album that sees Solefald testing new ideas freely, but on the other hand, the convoluted nature of the album seems more like a fault than a mere matter of album depth.

Report this review (#507689)
Posted Tuesday, August 23, 2011 | Review Permalink

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