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Solefald - Neonism CD (album) cover

NEONISM

Solefald

 

Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

3.39 | 23 ratings

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Trickster F.
Prog Reviewer
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.

Trickster F. | 4/5 |

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