if you have never seen cowboys playing guitars and singing icelandic, the pond, pardon me, Arte is about to make your day with an amazing concert filmed at 2014 Hellfest of Sólstafir, a no-less amazing viking post/prog-metal band hailing from the frog’s homeland.
on board, you will meet Aðalbjörn “Addi” Tryggvason (guitar & vocals), Svavar “Svabbi” Austmann (bass), Sæþór Maríus “Pjúddi” Sæþórsson (guitar) and Guðmundur Óli Pálmason (drums). being perfect crepuscalar rays (as the band’s name suggests with exactness), these very gentlemen have been officiating since 1995 and have released five LPs, needless to mention a bunch of EPs and demos. considering the incredible critical (and highly deserved) acclaim of Ótta, their last album, we assume that their signature to Season Of Mist in 2011 may have offered them more echo.
although the opening Lágnætti may nonplus a soprano voice aficionado (see why by reading a bit further), it worth giving Ótta a try anyway because this new album is a genuine beauty of awe-inspiring musing. if you observe the landscape of the album artwork properly, you will understand that iceland is a precious source of inspiration for the band. with Sólstafir, soft winds caress your ears occasionally, volcanoes flare up joyfully while an impatient geyser erupts. not to mention lush green parterres and grottos which light changes according to the wind direction and where huldufólk live.
Ótta is a flabbergasted album, made not only of raging guitars. this is a pure jewel of elegant progressive (metal) rock, such as the title track of the album suggests. violins twirl around a banjo and guitars strum gently without aggression. Aðalbjörn’s voice calms down, gets warm and revives the frog’s desire to speak icelandic again. the atmospheric erupting guitars of Dagmái announce a disquieting anger which actually never really pops out. the melodies of this new album shows a clear poetic line, even if Miðdegi reminds absent-minded elves that Sólstafir also draw some inspiring from metal roots. a guitar meows gently in the background, this is remarkable.
a pinch of power roused by thrilling metal notes (Nón) and a soupçon of melancholy stirred by post-rock breezes. a melancholic piano which pairs doleful guitars before violins echo them (Miðaftann) invite to close your eyes and let things go. Ótta terminates with magnificent tempestuous drums and guitars that stress the urgent need to escape and feel the tonic of the fresh air whipping against your face, as your eyes get lost at gazing tormented black waves. this is absolutely beautiful.
to comprehend the grandeur of the album entirely, Season Of Mist gives listeners a precious clue:
The song titles of Ótta form a concept based on an old Icelandic system of time keeping similar to the monastic hours called Eykt (“eight”). The 24 hour day was divided into 8 parts of 3 hours each. The album starts at midnight, the beginning of Lágnætti (“low night”), continues through each Eyktir of the day and ends with Náttmál (“nighttime”) from 21:00 to 0:00. This form of time keeping is more open than the relentless ticking of modern times, where each second is made to count, which turns humanity into cocks of the corporate clockwork.
now, to enjoy your (possible) discover of this powerful heaven music in every respect, we recommend to have a direct insight in the band’s tender repertoire on a KEXP’s session, directed from KEX Hostel in Reykjavik during Iceland Airwaves ’12. be ready to be staggered, for you couldn’t be closer to Sólstafir.