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Avant-garde music at its finest - 98%

Soylent_Groan, March 9th, 2007

The only thing that disappointed me about this album is that I heard it after I finalised my 2006 top ten albums list.

Everything that "Red For Fire" lacked (which wasn't much) this makes up for in spades: the production is beautifully clean and crisp, the classical instrument passages didn't sound at all out of place, and Cornelius' croaking vocals (some of my favourite black metal vocals ever) have developed to their pinnacle.

The album starts off with a short interlude played on a violin, while the drumming begins in the background and eventually takes over, quickly turning the song into a pulverising affair. This is only a taste of things to come.

For some years Solefald have been on the cutting edge of social commentary in music, viciously attacking materialism and empty culture as early as the mid-nineties. Now that it has once again become "cool" to attack the mainstream (a paradox if ever there was one) Solefald have diverged from this path and gone in for a mythology-based set of concept albums, and what a pair of albums they are!

The album loses two per cent from me because of the positioning of the "Lokasenna" tracks. On "Red For Fire", an extract of the epic poem "Lokasenna" appeared as the final track, spoken by Cornelius (presumably) in the original Icelandic, with wind and waves in the background. And this was a good thing. Five minutes or so of Cornelius' pleasantly deep voice speaking a beautifully guttural language was very calming. On "Black For Death", unfortunately, two further extracts were put on the album, not at the end, which would have been fine, but as the seventh and penultimate tracks, which kind of break up the album instead of complementing it.

Overall, however, an admirable offering. Standout tracks include "Queen In The Bay Of Smoke" and "Sagateller".