26th May 2017 – Season Of Mist
01. Silfur – Refur
05. Hvít Sæng
Forming in 1995, the Icelandic progressive rockers Solstafir have changed significantly over the course of their career, metamorphosing from black metal upstarts just after the turn of the century, to fully-fledged post-metal pioneers. This process may have taken them 19 years, but it’s been a worthwhile journey, and one that has only got better as the years pass. 2014′s Ótta was considered by many to be the best release of that year, and for good reason; on it, Solstafir truly embraced the bleakness and beauty of their homeland and let it seep into every riff, chord and harmony. So how do you follow a masterpiece?
The short answer is, you don’t. Many would forgive the band if they’d stuck to the formula of their magnum opus and recorded the same album all over again; this is not the Solstafír way, however. Berdreyminn roughly translates to ‘a prophetic visionary’ and it certainly takes a band of unique vision to make such a grandiose mission statement, seeking to continue their expansive evolution. Indeed, looking back is an easy thing to do, but get too wrapped up in the past and it’ll consume you. Solstafír understand this, and keep both eyes fixed on the horizon; this attitude is certainly what has allowed Sólstafir to continue to grow as they have, and Berdreyminn undoubtedly follows suit; expanding out of Ótta, but simultaneously plunging its very foundations into 70s rock.
From the opening “Silfur-Refur” into the Thin Lizzy-inspired “Isafold“, the band continue their aural tour of their homeland. This record as a whole feels less bleak; a summer album, if you will, that brings levity and joy along with the bands’ usual jaunts into heart-wrenching melancholia. As a whole, Berdreyminn feels cohesive and bright; each track brings with it an ebb and flow that could begin to fatigue if not for the depth that the band hammer into every single song.
To say the record doesn’t stand still would be an understatement. From the ethereal “Naros” to the grunge-veined “Ambatt“, every track follows its predecessor with perfected thematic continuation. That latter track is a dreamlike venture into 90′s grunge with a Cobain-esque vocal delivery and passive instrumentation. It appears distant, and as the track draws closer to its conclusion it builds up aggression whilst grasping firmly to the dreamlike dissonance at the songs’ core.
An organ creeps in, followed shortly by a piano, vocals and a kick drum. Final track “Blafjall” is, as most final tracks are, the summary of the record as a whole. It gives nods to Ótta whilst maintaining the warmth that has spread throughout this entire record. Arguably the heaviest track on the whole albim, it’s something that will undoubtedly cause a ruckus in the live arena.
The Reykjavik quartet dare to tread the waters without fear of being lost in the depths. Berdreyminn is an expansive undertaking that might fall back on it’s formula intermittently, but sees Solstafir maintain a consistency throughout their continued exploration of dreamlike compositions, all of which continue to hearken back to the warmth that sweeps over their homeland.