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SOLSTAFIR

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."

Background:
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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Svartir SandarSvartir Sandar
Season Of Mist 2011
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I Blodi Og AndaI Blodi Og Anda
Season of Mist 2013
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KoldKold
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101 DISTRIBUTION 2009
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Season of Mist 2014
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Masterpiece of Bitterness - SolstafirMasterpiece of Bitterness - Solstafir
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Masterpiece of Bitterness by Solstafir [Music CD]Masterpiece of Bitterness by Solstafir [Music CD]
Spikefarm
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SOLSTAFIR discography


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

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

3.19 | 8 ratings
Í Blóđi og Anda
2002
3.33 | 14 ratings
Masterpiece Of Bitterness
2005
4.09 | 22 ratings
Köld
2009
3.27 | 13 ratings
Svartir Sandar
2011
4.04 | 19 ratings
Ótta
2014

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
1995
0.00 | 0 ratings
Til Valhallar
1996
0.00 | 0 ratings
Promo Tape September 1997
1997
0.00 | 0 ratings
Unofficial Promo 1998
1998
4.00 | 1 ratings
Black Death: The
2002
0.00 | 0 ratings
Promo 2004
2004

SOLSTAFIR Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Ótta by SOLSTAFIR album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.04 | 19 ratings

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Ótta
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.

7.4

Originally written for my Facebook page/blog: www.facebook.com/neoprogisbestprog

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 Svartir Sandar by SOLSTAFIR album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.27 | 13 ratings

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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...

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 Í Blóđi og Anda by SOLSTAFIR album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.19 | 8 ratings

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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.

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 Masterpiece Of Bitterness by SOLSTAFIR album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.33 | 14 ratings

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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

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