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Beautiful and unique - 87%

davidian998, June 17th, 2006

A black metal band from Iceland releasing an album called ‘Masterpiece of Bitterness’, needless to say people would expect this to be a raw frosty piece of work covered with blastbeats, insane riffs, traditional production and vocals of the screechiest variety right? Well if you’re expecting this you’re wrong because Sólstafir is something very different. This band plays a form of progressive black metal nowadays which is pretty unique as opposed to what they used to do, black metal with the viking theme. It’s much like Enslaved who progressed in a similar direction. Sólstafir uses a style of vocals one would expect in the sludge metal genre and not so much in the black metal one, they might take a bit of time to get used to but it fits well with the music.

The album begins with a song that lasts for about 20 minutes which is called ‘I Myself the Visionary Head’. This song starts out with a bit of a sludge vibe going through it and then slowly builds up to a climax. This process is much like something you would find within the postrock genre, influences of which seem to be present throughout this record. The following songs like ‘Nature Strutter’, ‘Bloodsoaked Velvet’ and ‘Lux Fare’ are shorter but equally powerful and are structured in a similar way. ‘Bloodsoaked Velvet’ is the fastest and harshest of the bunch; it’s a bit more reminiscent of pure black metal apart from the vocals and even becomes a little thrashy at times. ‘Lux Fare’ has a few relaxing musical arrangements including a part that is mixed with samples of running water which makes it a nice atmospheric song and the highlight of the album. Next up are ‘Ghosts of Light’, ‘Ritual of Fire’ and the album closer, ‘Náttfari’. ‘Ghosts of Light’ is a harsh, fast track bearing some massive guitar playing mixed with powerful drumming and is very enjoyable. ‘Ritual of Fire’ is the second of the longer tracks on this disc and starts out quite relaxing but gradually turns into a hypnotic trip of epic proportions. ‘Náttfari’ is a nice little instrumental which serves as an outro to the album.

‘Masterpiece of Bitterness’ is a very good release so if you like your black metal or your metal in general to be a little different and don’t stray away from bands carrying a unique sound I highly recommend you give this a chance.

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