Release DetailsLABEL Season of Mist
RELEASED ON 10/18/2005
Red For Fire - An Icelandic Odyssey Part I
posted on 11/2005 By:
My only prior experience with Norway’s Solefald was 2001’s Pills Against the Ageless Ills, which though I enjoyed, never impressed me enough to look into In Harmonia Universali due to their over quirkiness. However, when I heard Solefald’s two part epic Red For Fire and Black For Death was going to be based on the epic Iceland poem An Icelandic Odyssey, I decided to give them another chance.
I’m glad I did. Whereas Arcturus’s newest slab of metallic quirkiness was a bit disappointing (thought mainly due to the excellence of The Sham Mirrors), the duo of Lazare (who also has served in Borknagar, Asmegin and Age of Silence) and Cornelius has delivered a stunning album that manages to combine the band’s unconventional black metal stylings with Viking austerity and grandiosity. The most fitting term I came up with was ‘eccentric Nordic majesty.’
Initially I’ll admit, when opener “Sun I Call” sauntered out of my headphones like a Vegas lounge tune, I said to myself, “There’s no saxophones is Viking mythology”, but accepting such a musical tangent is part of enjoying Solefald’s music and thusly the tracks serves as a fitting’ mood building introduction the following Nordic kaleidoscope of sound. After the opening tracks graceful climax, “Survival of the Outlaw”, and “Where Birds Have Been” lumber into view with a horn heavy, angular, almost death metal lean that is ominous and grandiose. This early in the album, its obvious that Lazare has one of the most unique voices in metal comparable to Garm (Ulver, Borknagar) and ICS Vortex (Borknagar, Dimmu Borgir, Arcturus), and should, could (should) easily slide into either Arcturus’s or Borknagar’s vocal gig should they become available. These earthy second and third tracks also show a deeper, more focused sense of metal rather than obsessive theatricals.
After the instrumental “Bragi”, the albums centerpiece “White Frost Queen” is a hypnotic, female vocal laced ballad of sorts that seems to capture the bleak but beautiful Iceland vista musically, but is abruptly interrupted by the stern death metal gait of “There is Need” with its epic mid section. I was actually pretty surprised with this albums level of pure ‘metal’, as often Solefald actually deliver some pretty heavy moments, even if littered with their trademark operatics. However, the later part Red in Fire is far more ‘challenging’ and less metal with the spoken word “Prayer of a Son”, the sprawling “Crater of the Valkryies” and album closer “Lokasenna; a 6 minute reading of a Eddic poem. But they all drip with an authentic sense of pagan pride, despite the artistic ventures Solefald injects into their music.
Red For Fire is lushly produced allowing the plethora of guest instrumentalists and vocalists to seep through Solefald’s own innate creativity. Of course, Red For Fire comes with a warning tag due to its pretty non traditional take on metal and progressive tendencies that comes across like Enslaved meeting Arcturus at a Viking attire only poetry reading. But in my books that’s a pretty exclusive and brilliant club.
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Black for Death: An Icelandic Odyssey, Pt. II
In Harmonia Universali