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Svartir Sandar - 80%

KonradKantor, April 25th, 2012

Those who have not yet had the pleasure of experiencing the band that one of our writers described as "Jim Morrison's corpsepainted and drug-addled suicidal spawn" should know right now that no comparisons, regardless of their supreme hilarity and awesomeness, will ever do Solstafir justice. Fortunately for those that are already intrigued and have not yet given these Icelandic space cowboys a fair shot, Svartir Sandar is one hell of a great place to start.

Seasoned fans of this project will find that Solstafir hasn't lost its steam since 2005's Masterpiece of Bitterness, and that each of the band's four members have increased their playing skills, as well as broadened their wide array of outside influences that affect the album's songwriting. Drawing on sounds from within the metal world as well as from some more popular-yet-still-respectable musical avenues, Svartir Sandar is perhaps the closest thing you'll ever find to Sigur Ros attempting to compose a harmonic balancing act between The Mantle and Ashes Against The Grain. That said, the comparison falls short; especially when considering the soul-shattering devastation of Aðalbjörn Tryggvason's unparalleled vocal performance.

Perhaps what sets Svartir Sandar apart from Solstafir's other albums most is the band's decision to run with the double-CD idea, as opposed to condensing the concept. The album barely breaches the standard 74 minute mark, and as a result seems like more of a chore to spin than it actually is. "Stinningskaldi" and "Stormfari" -- two interlude-type tracks that make the album feel somewhat disjointed toward the end -- could have easily been eliminated to alleviate this potential problem. Aside from that, there's absolutely nothing else that gets in the way of classifying Svartir Sandar as a fantastic addition to an already flourishing catalog. It's also quite safe to say that Solstafir's heaviest years are in the past, so fans should look forward to new approaches to an already well-defined sound in the future. Here's to a bit of brevity the next time 'round, folks. I mean hell, if a MetalReview writer can try it out, then anything is possible.

Originally written for MetalReview.com