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Vintersorg - Solens Rötter - 80%

ConorFynes, January 17th, 2011

In what can be described as a 'return to their roots,' Vintersorg has arguably created their most consistent album to date. Moving away from the avant-garde leanings of the previous two albums and making a return to the viking folk metal sound the band was founded on, there is still a level of progressive ambition retained that should appease those that found themselves moreso drawn to the stranger-sounding, more recent material. Despite their potential labelling as 'black metal,' 'Solens Rötter' is a deeply melodic journey, and seeks to break Vintersorg out of the genre almost entirely.

The album's strength relies greatly on the strong clean singing abilities of Andreas Hedlund. While there are the typical black metal growls here as well, much of the songwriting is centered around the immense vocal harmonies the man can produce. Meaning 'roots of the sun' in Swedish, 'Solens Rötter' is also the first album in almost a decade that Vintersorg writes completely in their mother tongue. While this may rob the average english-speaking listener of the firsthand abililty to delve into the subject matter being sung at hand, the language is phonetically very well suited for the music, and gives the album an even more Scandanavian vibe to it.

The generally optimistic (yet beautiful) clean singing and polished production gives the music a light feeling overall, despite obvious attempts in places to be 'dark.' As has been said before, Vintersorg gets back in touch with the concept of 'folk metal' here, and the typical metal instruments are mixed in with much more traditional sounds; giving 'Solens Rötter' a very medieval feeling to it. While there is certainly progressiveness to the music here (comparisons to prog death giants Opeth is not unfounded), many of the songs here are generally straightforward in their structure, although each track is very strong. The album certainly opens with one of it's strongest pieces however; 'Döpt I En Jökelsjö.' Through an array of acoustic guitars, black metal growls, rapid fury and finally the great harmonized clean vocal work, the opener is a perfect crash course in everything that a listener can expect from 'Solens Rötter.'

The album's sense of flow isn't particularly great and the sound is generally quite uniform throughout, but 'Solens Rötter' is an immense journey. Anyone under the impression that metal lacks melody as a genre, should certainly check out this great album from Vintersorg, and possibly reconsider their opinions.

Immediately likable - 90%

TimFS, August 10th, 2007

It seems Vintersorg’s avant-garde period was a little lost on most people, lacking the hooks of early tunes like Till Fjälls. For this album he has revived the catchiness of that early era, but retaining the intricacy seen in his later efforts. The result is an album with little to no fillers, songs that grab your ears and say “no, you must listen!” and must be listened over and over to hear all the subtleties and intricacies. The chorus of Döpt I En Jökelsjö is full of emotion and conviction (even though I have not yet been able to find out what Döpt I En Jökelsjö is in English), one of the best ‘melodic’ moments in anything considered as metal that I’ve ever heard. Aside from the tedium of the last instrumental, the quality of the songs is excellent. What’s really interesting to hear is that the drums are programmed, which is impressive in terms of how realistic they sound, but sad in the fact that combined with the fact this album was mostly a two-man effort, I’d be surprised if even Asgeir Mickelson could keep up with them, meaning the songs being played live (even if Vintersorg continue to tour) might not be as likely as one would hope. As far as studio efforts go though, Mr. Hedlund is certainly on the right track.

A Masterpiece - 100%

Fear_Shining_Yrael, April 29th, 2007

I have only been aware of Vintersorg for the past few months after hearing Solens Rötter.. and I now regret every second of my previously have not been aware of this divine vocalist's Progressive Viking Metal band.

Vintersorg provides some of the best vocals I have ever heard. His black metal rasps and growls are top notch, sure, but his clean singing voice is down right amazing. Powerful, harmonious and melodic. Divine, striking and beautiful. This guy has got some major talent. On this album in particular (as of my writing this review I haven't heard anything other than Solens Rötter and The Focusing Blur, the latter of which I have not sat down and fully analyzed) he switches back and forth between a light section of music with his beautiful singing voice, and heavier sections with the black, rasped growl and heavy cries. I suppose that in some aspects, his vocals are somewhat similar to Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth, but, and I say this with no offense intended to Åkerfeldt who is a great vocalist and one of my favorites, a more much passionate and more palpable clean singing voice.

The music in itself is outright brilliant, also. Very melodic song structures littered throughout with heavy, blackish riffs and darker sections that contrast perfectly with Vintersorg's voice and the the other, lighter sections of the music. There are some odd time signatures and unique song structures that provide some atmosphere and ambiance, and I can honestly say I can't find a single flaw in the composition of this album. Andreas Hedlund is a master of his craft.

A great step forward for Vintersorg - 85%

Noktorn, March 18th, 2007

While I've always enjoyed Vintersorg's earlier folk black metal work, I don't derive much enjoyment out of his prog era. Not only do I generally dislike prog as a rule, but his delivery of such music always felt somewhat clumsy and inappropriate to me, as if what he really wanted to do was go back to folk and leave the prog material behind. Not that my opinion means much; his prog albums are some of the most highly heralded in the genre. I'd up to this point essentially resigned myself to never hearing another viking album from Vintersorg.

I'm extremely please to have been proven wrong. 'Solens Rötter', Vintersorg's sixth full-length album, has eschewed much of the proginess of the last three albums and has added a great deal more folk back into the equation. The fully prog sections are now relegated to only certain stretches, and are very well weaved into the more traditional music found here. My sigh of relief could be heard from miles away; it's a tremendously pleasing change for Vintersorg to go back to a slightly less complex, more epic variety of music. It pleases me to no end that when I listen to this album, I think of Windir and Moonsorrow instead of Dream Theater and Spastic Ink.

The best tracks here are the ones with an entire absence of prog passages, leaving them as pure, full, glorious folk metal tracks that wouldn't be out of place on a Moonsorrow album. Opener 'Döpt I En Jökelsjö' is possibly the most beautiful on this LP; alternating acoustic and electrified soft/harsh passages are traditional but wildly imaginative and layered. There are perpetually at least four layers of compositions moving simultaneously in completely different yet congruent directions. This is almost folk metal for prog fans, maintaining the complex songwriting of prog and the inherent beauty and melodicism of folk. Even certain songs that are more purely prog work well when given an extra burst of folk melody, such as on 'Från Materia Till Ande', where Evergrey-style power/prog meets triumphant folk, resulting in a mixture that leaves something for everyone.

Every performance on this album is top-shelf. Instruments are all handled creatively and cleanly, and the same terms can be used for the production as well, which is crystal clear but not lacking personality. Andreas Hedlund's vocals are indescribably good: his cleans (frequently overdubbed as a chorus) are enchantingly melodic but definitely powerful, and the Eisregen-style black metal rasps are employed very effectively and not to excess. The move back to all-Swedish lyrics was a brilliant one: Vintersorg's mother tongue is perfectly fitting for music such as this. Perhaps the most daring move of his, though, is the instrumental track 'Vad Aftonvindens Andning Viskar', which somehow blends folk acoustic guitar and flute with jazz drumwork for a wonderfully graceful outro to a wonderful album.

The combination of prog and folk doesn't always quite work out, unfortunately. 'Naturens Mystar' stumbles around a bit before pulling together in its second half, much like 'Perfektionisten', which also would have been better served by sticking to pure folk instead of prog. However, none of these passages are enough to significantly diminish the quality of 'Solens Rötter', which, as it stands, is one of the best folk releases so far this year. Every note drips of majestic beauty, and progressive fans and traditionalists alike should be sure to pick this album up. You will not be displeased.

(Originally written for www.grindingtheapparatus.net)