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Solefald - Red For Fire - An Icelandic Odyssey Part 1
Solefald, masters of avant-garde, quirky black metal and delivering the unexpected. They were already post-black before the term even existed, and practically all of their albums are classics in my book. Neonism with it’s drum n bass beats, raps and witty social comments, Pills Against The Ageless Ills with it’s straightforward rock n roll attitude, brilliant vocal harmonies and conceptual storyline about a philosopher and a porn director and In Harmonia Universali with it’s epic take on art, romanticism, rich instrumentation and it’s multi linguistic approach.
Solefald are clearly a breed apart and they will always be, even in their latest attempt at being ‘true’. Solefald and true, can it really be? Have they really abandoned their experimental nature?

Well, of course not. Solefald wouldn’t be them selves if there wasn’t some sort of twist to the story. Masterminds Cornelius and Lazare travelled to Iceland and conceived an epic tale which is spread over two albums (the next one, Black For Death will emerge early next year) supposedly inspired by Viking legends. Folky melodies, an angel like female vocalist, an Icelandic priest, violins, a saxophone, (the latter two already a present on the last album) it’s all there. The idea of a concept is strengthened by recurring musical themes. The opening riff of the thirst track ‘Sun I Called’ returns halfway ‘There Is need’, albeit in a somehow mutated form, and closing track ‘Sea I Called’ is essentially a reprise of the album opener.
When first listening, it’s a bit too much really. Solefald always had a catchy edge to them, and this is still present, but this is really EPIC. Everything is all over the place, and it has a much more orchestrated feel. It’s seems more classic black/Viking metal, with screams returning (which is good), sharp riffing, but there is always something popping up catching you off guard. Lazare’s (again) brilliantly arranged vocal harmonies, some weird synth, or an odd vocal effect. Think Jernlov/The Linear Scaffold style, only with the experience of the following three albums added up to it. This really culminates in ‘The Crater Of the Valkyries’ an 8:21 lasting song of grand proportions where Solefald’s black metal roots, their love for avant-garde, and their truly amazing arranging skills really come together, leaving me totally gob smacked in it’s wake.

The funny thing about this album is, I didn’t appreciate it that much at first listen as I normally would with a Solefald record. But all of a sudden, the vocal melody of ‘Sun I Called’ got stuck in my head (and never left), simply forcing me to listen to the album again and again. And after a few spins it happened, it all fell in to place like pieces of a puzzle. I heard the shards of Neonism-ish sounds, the basic riffing of Pills… and the orchestration of In Harmonia... coming together in this epic Viking story, and it somehow felt like coming home.

Solefald have yet again delivered a classic album which may not be as genre defying as their past work, but in terms of scale this really is their magnum opus, and I’m really anxious to hear the second instalment of their Icelandic Odyssey.
Solefald - Red For Fire - An Icelandic Odyssey Part 1
95/1001Details Season Of Mist
Released on Monday Oct 17th, 2005

Writer @Ce-El-Wan on Tuesday Oct 18th, 2005

Tags: #Solefald
Tracklisting 1. Sun I Call (6:20)
2. Survival Of The Outlaw (6:38)
3. Where Birds Have Never Been (5:55)
4. Bragi (instrumental) (1:19)
5. White Frost Queen (6:58)
6. There Is Need (5:53)
7. Prayer Of A Son (poem) (1:47)
8. Crater Of The Valkyries (8:21)
9. Sea I Called (5:34)
10. Lokasenna (poem) (5:39)
Line up Cornelius - Vocals, Guitars, Bass
Lazare - Vocals, Drums, Synths