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Stream Sólstafir’s ‘Ótta’ And Read Our Review
Sólstafir’s new album ‘Ótta’ is due to be released via Season Of Mist next week, but if you just can’t wait that long then you’re in luck! Head in here to read our review and stream the album in full…
SEASON OF MIST
The Icelandic cowboys of Sólstafir have never been easy to pin down. To describe the atmospheric intensity drawn from their black metal roots implies they are more necro and grim than they have been for years; to talk about the beauty, misery and longing that drips from their laments makes them sound like Katatonia (which they don’t), and overlooks the strange bliss their darkness inspires; to refer to the warm weight that drives them forward makes them sound like another Cult Of Luna- or Isis-worshipping band, which they decidedly are not.
Perhaps the most salient comparison you can draw with them is Primordial – not because of any Celtic-isms, but because they are so instantly recognisable, be it the impassioned emotion of their singer whose voice can be spotted within three notes, or the riffing style that even those who unashamedly try and emulate cannot match.
This distinctiveness is why they continue to make killer records every time they enter the studio, and ‘Ótta’ is no different. Dropping back on the pace from the rocking ‘Svartir Sandar’, the four-piece’s fifth record at first may seem to lack a little momentum. But dig beneath the surface, and the slow build is the reason ‘Ótta’ is gripping. It draws you in gently, enticing you into the warm and bright, yet bleak, world it crafts, wrapping you in the inherent sadness as completely as you will let it. It is a record that, despite maintaining a thick, heavy guitar tone, is all about subtleties of rhythm and melody, an album that won’t force you to embrace its sombre dark moods but seduces you until it has you hooked.
As ever, what draws you in quickest and conveys the feelings inherent most clearly are the sumptuous vocals of Aðalbjörn Tryggvason, whose crooning lilt speaks of a man holding his emotional stability together by a slender thread. And while the singing is only one aspect of why ‘Ótta’ is so powerful, it encapsulates the power perfectly. Sólstafir on this album sound at their most natural, as if they just pitched up at a studio, plugged in and hit “record” and did the entire record in one take. The compositional skill evident beneath the surface tells you they didn’t, but you have to look for it to tell, so clear is the honesty on display.
If heavy metal has, as some bemoan, become too manufactured and programmed, Sólstafir’s ‘Ótta’ is the antithesis of this. It is an authentic, pure encapsulation of the passion of its musicians, and while this inevitably leads to the odd rough edge, that only adds to its ability to grip you and not let go till your eyes are misting up. Beautiful melancholy should sound this good more often.
 TOM DARE
You can find Sólstafir on Facebook.