Genre: MAGIC (but call it post-metal if you need a name)
Country: Iceland
Label: Season of Mist
Year: 2014

You have Viking folk metal, and then you have Skálmöld. You have post-rock, and then you have SigurRós. You have a lot of eclectic and strange music, and then you have Björk. Icelandic musicians seem to do everything a little different and that makes them stand out in the pack.Sólstafir is yet another of those intriguing export products of the land of ice and fire (why do you think many Games of Thrones scenes are filmed there?). Generally, metal music seems to be respected in Iceland as well. A huge banner with the members of Skálmöld encouraged people to join them in the Reykjavik marathon and another several meters high poster of Sólstafir decorated the side of one of the buildings in their capital’s main shopping street.Let us see what tunes the “anti-Christian Icelandic heathen bastards” of Sólstafir, as they call themselves, have createdfor their latest album Ótta.

‘Lágnætti’ wakes us up slowly. For the first minutes it’s just piano, strings and the beautiful Icelandic chants of AðalbjörnTryggvason (a free beer for the one who can pronounce that guy’s name!). Only around two minutes and a half the guitar and drums drop in to lift up the esoteric veil. Sólstafir never turns really heavy on this record, but they manage to deliver something much more profound through their music.It is difficult to describe the songs as separate pieces as the whole album floats unnoticed from one mood into another. For example, near the later part of ‘Miðaftann’ you suddenly find yourself in a passage of strings and piano which ispure emotion. At times the mood feels dark, as it does in the second half of ‘Náttmál’, while on other songs gaps are filled with a sad but psychedelic bridge.

The band has evolved a great deal since the days they produced Viking black metal. A trend noticeable on Svartir Sander,their fifth album the music has becomemuch lighter, but even more captivating. Their evolution in style can be compared to the French Alcest or German Lantlôs. Singer Tryggvason’s voice, however, does not give up the raw touch in his voice. As a fan you will notice how their distinctive musical style elements have blended together in something truly unique of their own. The songs on Ótta are long but this allows you to drift away in your thoughts and the images that pop up in your mind. I bought the album in Reykjavik, Iceland, just before starting my road trip around the country. So for me the songs are impossible to disconnect from Sólstafir’s home country. I truly feel how the band draws inspiration from their native land. An ever-changing landscape filled with waterfalls, blueglaciers, green meadows, brown lava fields, golden fields…Just as the view from the car was constantly shifting, revealing yet another breath taking scenery around the corner or over that next hill, similarly the music on Ótta drifts by in constant waves of awe. Like there is an immense beauty in the vast desolated open spaces of Iceland, Sólstafircreates beauty in sorrow and solitude.

For me it feels like Sólstafir has been exploring the depths of human emotions on Óttaand they artfully translated them in captivating pieces of music. They scout along the borders of definedgenres and open up pathways to different, adventurousplaces. The music journey is not physically intense, but if you’re open for it, their music touches you on a much deeper level, thus revealing its true intensity.