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Experimental/Post Metal • Iceland

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Solstafir biography
Sólstafir - Band name explanation by guitarist and vocalist Ađalbjörn Tryggvason:
"Crepuscular rays. Alternating light and dark bands of light (rays and shadows) that appear to fan out from the sun's position; usually occur around sunrise and sunset, also when the sun shines through breaks in clouds."

Sólstafir is from Iceland and came to existence around 1994, but there is no exact known date.
As drummer Guđmundur Óli Pálmason recalls he was asked by guitarist and vocalist Ađalbjörn Tryggvason (or Addi as he's called) to join the band in December 1994. However, he says, the first rehearsal wasn't until January 1995. At that time they were a trio, with Halldór Einarsson on bass. They composed several songs from basic riffs that Addi and Halldór wrote and played in other formations in 1993/4, and also wrote new tracks as well. In 1998 bassist Halldór had left the band and was replaced by Svavar Austmann. The other guitarist, Sćţór M. Sćţórsson joined only in 1999, for their live shows. The fours guys (Addi, Sćţór, Halldór and Guđmundur) knew each other from childhood.
In 1995 the band released a demo tape "Í Norđri". Then they recorded the demo "Til Valhallar" which was never officially released. However, four of the six songs in that demo were released as a MCD by View Beyond Records. In 1997 and 1998 they recorded two promotional tapes. It was not until 1999 that they started recording their full length debut album called "Í Blóđi og Anda". Its release was delayed time and time again and was only released in 2002 by the German label Ars Metalli. Unfortunately the label closed soon after the album's release and so the CD soon became a rarity and did not get proper promotion. February 2002 sees the band recording five songs for Black Death: The Demo. But this was never officially released but three of the songs were released as Black Death: The EP by the German labels Ketzer Rec and Neodawn Prod. "Til valhallar" was re-mastered and re-released with all six tracks, a colour cover and comments for all the songs, by Russian Oskorei production in 2003. This was followed by the re-release of "Í Blóđi og Anda" in 2004 by the same label. February 2004 is when the band started recording "Masterpiece Of Bitterness". Three songs from this album were released as a promo in the...
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SOLSTAFIR Videos (YouTube and more)

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Spikefarm 2009
$7.71 (used)
Season Of Mist 2012
$16.22 (used)
Masterpiece Of BitternessMasterpiece Of Bitterness
Spinefarm 2017
$8.98 (used)
Season of Mist 2014
$8.18 (used)
Í Blóđi og Anda (In Blood and Spirit)Í Blóđi og Anda (In Blood and Spirit)
Season of Mist 2013
$9.85 (used)
Svartir Sandar (Ltd. Ed transparent Red & Black mixed vinyl gatefold 2Lp)Svartir Sandar (Ltd. Ed transparent Red & Black mixed vinyl gatefold 2Lp)
Season of Mist 2019
$27.60 (used)
Berdreyminn (Ltd. opaque Orange 2Lp)Berdreyminn (Ltd. opaque Orange 2Lp)
Limited Edition
Season of Mist 2017
$19.99 (used)
Berdreyminn (Deluxe)Berdreyminn (Deluxe)
Extra tracks
Season of Mist 2017
$14.51 (used)
Masterpiece of Bitterness - SolstafirMasterpiece of Bitterness - Solstafir
Spikefarm 2006
$11.98 (used)
Live In Japan 2015 (Limited Cd/Dvd)Live In Japan 2015 (Limited Cd/Dvd)
SONY 2017
$38.94 (used)

More places to buy SOLSTAFIR music online Buy SOLSTAFIR & Prog Rock Digital Music online:

SOLSTAFIR discography

Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

SOLSTAFIR top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.07 | 11 ratings
Í Blóđi og Anda
3.30 | 21 ratings
Masterpiece Of Bitterness
4.04 | 28 ratings
3.51 | 25 ratings
Svartir Sandar
3.91 | 44 ratings
3.74 | 19 ratings

SOLSTAFIR Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

SOLSTAFIR Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

SOLSTAFIR Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

SOLSTAFIR Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Í Norđri
3.00 | 1 ratings
Til Valhallar
0.00 | 0 ratings
Promo Tape September 1997
0.00 | 0 ratings
Unofficial Promo 1998
3.50 | 2 ratings
Black Death: The
0.00 | 0 ratings
Promo 2004
0.00 | 0 ratings


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Svartir Sandar by SOLSTAFIR album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.51 | 25 ratings

Svartir Sandar
Solstafir Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Egyptianprog-Fahmy

4 stars This is a great introduction to the Solstafir band. The experimental features within each song is unique and different from the other songs in the album. However, some songs such as "Svartir Sandar" and "Melrakbbus" suffer from extreme repetitiveness that makes you "sigh". Even though the song "Svartir Sandar" has a beautiful ending that makes it worth it. Songs such as "Fjara" were extremely beautiful, with great vocals, guitar and basslines. Not to mention the lyrics, which wounded beautiful and made me open the translation to understand this beautiful album.

This is an overall great experimental album and a good introduction to the Icelandic band.

 Ótta by SOLSTAFIR album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.91 | 44 ratings

Solstafir Experimental/Post Metal

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Awesome atmospheric Post Metal/Post Rock from these Icelandic rockers. As fellow prog reviewer Gallifrey pointed out, this what Sigur Rós might sound like if they were more metal, the music is very much in the vein of SIGUR RÓS and EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY. The nuances and subtleties on this album are so worth paying attention to, so gorgeous and powerful, that I highly recommend the headphone treatment. They are, after all, timing and titling their songs after the Old Icelandic monastic tradition of three hour increments, called "monastic hours."

Favorite songs: the emotional and stunningly gorgeous almost chamber music of 7. "Midaftann" (5:39) (10/10); the very Sigur Rós-sounding 2. "Ótta" (9:38) (10/10); 1. "Lágnatti" (8:48) (10/10); 8. "Náttmála" (11:15) (8/10), and; 6. "Nón" (7:47) (8/10).

Solid four star album: excellent addition to any prog rock music collection.

 Ótta by SOLSTAFIR album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.91 | 44 ratings

Solstafir Experimental/Post Metal

Review by FragileKings
Prog Reviewer

4 stars It was very sad news for me to read a couple of months back that drummer Gudmundur Oli Pamason (spelled here without the Icelandic letters) had been kicked out of the band in January. He wrote a long explanation of the recent events occurring between him and his former band mates on Wordpress. I got to know of Solstafir several years ago through Gudmundur's mother who had become a friend of mine via a blog site and we maintain our friendship on Facebook. Gummi (as he is also known) is also a very talented photographer and artist and responsible for much of Solstafir's artwork. He started the band 20 years ago with Addi (vocalist Adalbjorn Tryggvason) and poured his life's energy into keeping the band going. I have exchanged some personal comments with him on Flickr about his photographs and he has left a few comments on mine. But more so, his mother and I continue to be good friends over the Internet, and so when I saw the link to the Wordpress site she posted, I was deeply saddened to read what it said.

Though I had known about Solstafir for a few years, I hesitated to buy an album. I was certain that extreme metal, sludge, post metal, and any kind of screamo / aggro metal was not for me. But thanks to my interest in progressive rock and metal, I came around to purchasing albums by Mastadon, Anathema, and Baroness and liked many of the songs. Then Gummi's mom posted last autumn on Facebook about the band's latest album, Otta, and the concept so intrigued me that I thought it was time to buy a CD. For reasons that would make this preamble even longer were I too explain, my order was delayed and I only finally got the CD in the mail at the end of May this year.

On my first listen, I was surprised at how slow and sedate some of the music was. There were many atmospheric moments with strings and piano or simple repeated notes or chords or guitar effects that made this music easy on the ears. I read some reviews of the album and listened again. Yes, there was definitely an atmosphere here, something like the bare B&W misty landscape scene in the CD booklet. There was cold, and loneliness, and there was solitude and isolation. Yet there was warmth and at times energy and power.

I listened again and again, finding each time that I liked the album more and more. Addi's vocals are full of emotion and expression and not the screamo type or death growls that I thought I might hear. He can raise his voice to impassioned shouting when the music calls for it, but he can also squeeze emotion from his voice in tender places, too. I was and am reminded of Anathema at times and there's a bit of similarity to Baroness here and there. But I am struck with the overall impression that this is a beautiful album and great for listening to when one is in the mood. Though not very technical or complex, the songs seem to have been crafted more with the focus being on casting a mood. The concept of 'Otta' is eight songs, one for each of the eight three- hour time periods of the Old Norse day. My enjoyment of this album had me considering getting a hold of one or two other Solstafir albums and I still might do that, though perhaps this is Solstafir's penultimate release.

I do hope things work out between Gummi and the rest of the band, even though the best result may be in Gummi getting a fair deal in royalties for his contributions to the band in his artwork and drumming and then moving on. It is such a pity to read this sad news after I only just finally got a Solstafir album home. Unfortunately, the latest update on his site says things are as sour as ever and it has become time to stop falsely hoping for friendship to win over and call in the lawyers. Most unfortunate. But that is the music business, is it not?

 Ótta by SOLSTAFIR album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.91 | 44 ratings

Solstafir Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Gallifrey

4 stars "So, you know how post metal seems like a great idea in concept, but the vast majority of it is overlong and dull atmospheric sludge? This one like, isn't." - me, on the discovery of Sólstafir's 2009 album Köld, circa 2013

The whole debate that is continuously raging about post-metal/atmospheric sludge metal and whether or not post-metal is a genre or if it's all atmosludge or whatever really begs a big, glaring question - if all post-metal is atmosludge, then why doesn't actual post-metal exist. All it needs to do is take a good post-rock album and add some heavy guitars to it, why is it that every notable band in this area feels the need to fill their music up with godawful vocals and repetitive as hell riffs straight out of the sludge metal camp? It's not as if post-metal and sludge are intrinsically linked, you can certainly have one without the other, but it seems that in order to be a post-metal band you either need to be instrumental or have sludge metal vocals and riffs thrown all over the place. Where is the metal equivalent of Sigur Rós? Or even just Explosions in the Sky?

While Köld did sort of attempt to answer my question, by playing heavy, texture-oriented metal music that had an appreciated shortage of sludge metal elements, instead electing for clean vocals a good deal of the time, and even bringing some faster, non-doomy riffs into the fold for the heavier sections, I was never fully grasped by it. Stylistically it was nearly what I wanted from post-metal, but compositionally it fell short in a good number of ways. It was overlong and repetitive, and the semi-harsh vocals bordered on cringeworthy and annoying, not to mention that the sheer density and heaviness of this sort of music gets very draining as a listener.

Ótta, admittedly, is only my second encounter with this band, so any comparisons are a bit uneducated and are only really with regards to Köld, but I definitely feel that at least some of the compositional troubles I had with that record have been remedied here, even if they have been replaced with some other problems. The most obvious stylistic changes that Sólstafir have made with this album are the overall reduction in metal elements and the choice to sing all lyrics in their native Icelandic, which, combined with the fact that string group Amiina appear on this record, gets a few hundreds of people screaming "SIGUR ROS WORSHIP" at the top of their lungs. But despite the similarities, and my honest wish for a heavier, darker version of ( )-era Sigur Rós, this isn't really all too similar. The quiet moments with piano and strings that feature Ađalbjörn singing Icelandic in a softer and more emotive voice do kind of sort of bring them to mind, but the influence is nowhere near as clear as some are claiming.

As for the dropping of the metal elements, I am all for it in this instance, despite my well-known love for crushing crescendos. It does feel that every timbre and sound that the band build their softer sections out of sounds excellent and smooth and well placed, but I can't say the same about their heavy sections - the guitars are still linked too heavily to sludge, and have a tone that is so over-distorted that it loses power, so I find myself being drawn to the softer parts far more. The standouts on this album happen around the bookends, with the opening and closing tracks being my particular favourites. "Lágnćtti" is pretty much a classic long-winded post-rock-with- vocals build track, steadily raising the intensity every minute or so to a slightly elevated level. But what really makes it fantastic are the piano melodies, especially when accentuated with Amiina's strings. The motif melodies throughout this album are excellent, and along with some of the ambience in the softer sections, is definitely the album's best point. Although it does get a bit crescendocore, "Náttmál" is the albums culmination and highest point, carrying a wonderful energy throughout the track starting with an awesome section at around 2:30. The album's title track is another interesting one, with a rather strange lead motif that sounds straight out of Devin's Casualties of Cool album, ambient and driving, with a bit of a country twang to it. And as corny as that might sound on paper, it works quite well, with some of the strings soaring around the top reminding me of the way country artists use harmonicas for atmosphere.

However, as much as I enjoy some of the compositions here, and I do think Sólstafir have somewhat remedied the long-winded and boring parts I've found from them in the past, the one thing I just simply can't enjoy too much are their vocals, and despite my love of Sigur Rós, they seem to have gotten even more irritating with the change to full Icelandic lyrics. When Jónsi sings in Icelandic, it's ambient and ethereal, and you can barely hear any of the syllables he makes. But on Ótta, Ađalbjörn's vocals have to change between relatively clean sung to ferocious bellowing, and it really makes you realise what a hard, consonant-heavy language Icelandic is. And it just doesn't fit, at all. The softer vocals are tolerable, but the loud, intense, semi-harsh vocals just don't work at all. Similar to a language like German, there are just too many hard sounds and changing syllables to properly get any impact. And it doesn't help that I'm not the biggest fan of his vocal tone, either.

The only other major problem with this record is one that many others have pointed out, and is one that is common with a lot of music in this area - it runs out of steam rather quickly. I can say that every song has a motif or idea that I like, and the band have no shortage of melodic skill, but this is very tiring and draining music to sit through, and this album's 58-minute length can feel like 80 sometimes. I wouldn't call much of this 'filler', but a song like "Dagmál" could have been easily dropped with no loss, especially given the fact that it just sounds like a shoegaze-ier and Icelandic version of "Love is the Devil" from Köld.

From a melodic and compositional perspective, this is an undeniably strong album, bringing some wonderful and beautiful melodies into the fold. From a stylistic perspective, this is a pretty decent change, the songs feel more concise (but not concise enough), and the sludge metal parts are used more sparingly, although I am definitely not a fan of the Icelandic lyrics shift. On the whole this is certainly a better album than Köld, and shows Solstafir shifting their sound enough to try and stay relevant, but I can't help but feel they have something more in them that they aren't fully giving.


Originally written for my Facebook page/blog:

 Svartir Sandar by SOLSTAFIR album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.51 | 25 ratings

Svartir Sandar
Solstafir Experimental/Post Metal

Review by the philosopher

2 stars Solstavir is an wave / post-metal band from Iceland. The music is quiet minimalistic with just a few chords and lots of echo. The vocals have a great resemblance with the vocalist of The Cure. Actually the whole band reminds me a lot of the Cure. The rhythms are created mostly by the bass guitarist and drummer, while the guitarist is just firing sole chords. There is some hypnotic effect, although this is just a small effect compared with the psychobeats in the krautrock movement.

While I do like the soundscapes created by this band and can handle with the vocals, the song structures are too simple for me to really appreciate this band. There is some development within the songs, but no real surprises; only some rhythm changes. The instrumental solo's are really simple and only meant for effective use.

I'm not a post metal fan and I hope there will be other reviews available soon to give other views on this album. For me this. I find this record too long to listen to it till the end and therefor I cannot give this record more then two stars...

 Í Blóđi og Anda by SOLSTAFIR album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.07 | 11 ratings

Í Blóđi og Anda
Solstafir Experimental/Post Metal

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

3 stars I suppose that this album is for die hard fans of genre only. Because if this is meant for everybody, then there is mistake somewhere in between speakers and my mind. This is one big pain prolonged to about 60 minutes. With exception of instrumental songs like The Underworld Song that makes about 50% of this album, there are poorly sung songs. Yes, I can stand growls (now, I couldn't before), but this kind of vocals, where thread of singing is slipping out of singer's hands, where he cannot handle it properly, this is something I won't get used to.

Guitars and other instruments are average, nothing special and extraordinary remarkable. Why should they, when all casual fans of this genre is in this music contained. However, not to me, I'm somewhat more demanding "fan". Here, I'm more critic than to music I listen more. But that doesn't matter, because some facts are hard to deny. Like that Bitch in Black is perfect song with "normal" vocals this time, performed flawlessly (there's nothing I could voice against), but as I said, this is not majority of the album (nor minority). And the rest is just your default extreme metal from next door dragged down by vocals.

Tough call, because "second" half of this album is quite good. I like it, it's more calm, more acoustic like and I can appreciate more things here then.

3(+), I suppose, maybe little bit more, but not so much. Without first half, it would be almost 5-star rating.

 Masterpiece Of Bitterness by SOLSTAFIR album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.30 | 21 ratings

Masterpiece Of Bitterness
Solstafir Experimental/Post Metal

Review by avestin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars Psychedelic brutality

Heavy, aggressive, raw, angry, dark, repetitive, hypnotic, mesmerizing, psychedelic. Bitter? All of these words can serve as good descriptions for the music that Solstafir plays on this album.

Sólstafir is an Icelandic band that was created in 1994 and went through several phases and demo, promo and EP releases up to the point of releasing their first full-length in 2002 and this one, their second, in 2005. Sólstafir provides a listening experience that's based on mood, power and "tripping out" with the music and not on technical playing, complexity or virtuosity. If you want to know more about the background of the band, you're welcome to read the bio I've written for them in their page in Prog Archives. Made up of 7 songs, mostly long, with the opener being almost 20 minutes, this album can be exhausting (in a good way) and one needs to be in a proper mood to absorb its entire 70 minutes. The length, however, doesn't mean the songs harbor diversity or are complex epics; rather it should tell you of their inclination to create lengthy metallic freakout. At times it sounds like long repetitive and endless jams. That is, they go on for quite a while in their hypnotic riffing (which can be either slow or fast), and thus create a particular mood that can serve as a good companion to chill out or float away with your thoughts; that is until Ađalbjörn Tryggvason, the vocalist, resumes his screams. The vocals are mostly harsh screaming which to me seem to fit the music quite well, although at times can be too much or out of place; they complete very well the feel of the music and add to the intensity level. The thing is that when they're jamming or more accurately in their trance mode, it can be a bit tedious and too long; but when they garner up speed and energy, it's fabulous. Their dynamic side is impossible for me to ignore or let go by unnoticed; it's too thrilling and catchy and makes me shake my head or legs. Add to that the heaviness of their music and it can be a crushing experience. The guitars come crumbling down on my ears unmercifully and raw sounding, enhanced by the aforementioned vocals and with the blasting drums, one gets an ear a "devastating" listening experience. There are songs like Ljósfari, which have a haunting catchy melodic peak (yes, melodic). Those are great moments in the album, though not found often enough in my opinion.

A Masterpiece Of Bitterness is an angry album; it's heavy and raw. It's a great album to let loose your energies with. It's powerful and can be almost hypnotic in the parts where they play those ongoing riffs continuously. It's an effective and well made metal release but not an outstanding one. I do enjoy listening to it but there are some flaws as I mentioned in the review that prevent me from enjoying it more, such as some over-repetitiveness. I also think they should introduce more variety into their songs; there are places where I feel they could have gone further on and develop the theme or idea more and make the song more interesting and thus even more compelling to listen to.

I'm intrigued to see whether the band's next album will be in a similar vein or will they progress from this point onwards.

3.5 stars

Thanks to avestin for the artist addition.

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