Everything begun about 17 years ago, when Solstafir released their demo. First they were playing an average pagan black metal music (including an EP and their first full-length album). Then, around 2005 the Icelanders turned into more emotional and expressive ways and started to play a music more into post black metal and progressive, like a mix of Nachtmystium and Neurosis music and the depressive attitude of Katatonia. Having received very good reviews for “Masterpiece of Bitterness” and “Köld” the band continued playing this kind of music and now, their fourth full-length album, “Svartir Sandar”, is released. “Svartir Sandar” consist of two discs and the band’s music here seems to be result of the whole of their experience that they got during their career.

The whole album lasts around 80 minutes. Whichever of the two discs (Andvari or Gola) you listen, you can easily count each other as an independent disc, because Andvari is less heavy and darker than the second disc. Starting with the first cd, a 10minute track opens “Svartir Sandar”. Even it has a very drone atmosphere and an obvious long duration, “Ljós í Stormi” escapes monotony. In my opinion Adalbjörn’s vocals perhaps are the best in the band’s career. Next song is “Fjara” and it’s one of my favorite songs in this album. Here, even I don’t understand Icelandic, the depressive song’s attitude took me from the beginning. It has very beautiful guitar compositions with the drive in high levels, and somehow a soft drumming just to give an atmospheric point to the song. A song that reminds something of black metal music is “Din Ord”. The low tuning is clear in this track too, but the drumming and riffing are a bit faster and darker.

The drone-like atmospheric songs are continued with “Sjulki Skunning”. My opinion about Sólstafir is that, from “Masterpiece of Bitterness” ’till now, they are a heavier version of Katatonia. And this track, reminds a lot of Katatonia’s depressive rock music. Another favorite song of “Svartir Sandar” is “Æra”. Once again great vocals, full of expression, smashing drums and very fast guitar riffing.I think the sound of keyboards gives a psychedelic atmosphere to this song. The result is a very successful and mind blowing music composition. The first side finishes with the ambient and psychedelic “Kukl” and Adalbjörn’s vocals are still full of emotion.

The second disc, begins with a great track for me. “Melrakkablús” is one of those songs that reminds the music of Katatonia, in my opinion. This is clear from the song’s intro and the guitar melodies. But mainly the drums and secondly some riffs make it a heavy depressive song. Then three instrumental songs are following. Well, “Draumfari” is in the Katatonia category song too, for the second one I can’t say many things. It has minimal music and a narration. In the third instrumental song the narration is continued at the beginning and it has a fast riffing. To be honest, they didn’t impress me very much. As I said Gola differs, because it is a bit heavier. The title song has very strong and fast rhythm drums and very powerful vocals and the characteristic heavy guitars, dominate in this song, too. The psychedelic atmosphere due to the guitar melodies and the backing vocals at the end, should also not be omitted. And the last song “Djákninn” follows the same way. A perfect intro at the beginning and next a riffing in fast tempo. It’s like a rock’n’roll song but if you add the emotional vocals it becomes a heavy depressive post rock song. Sólstafir know that, because despite the long duration, the variety of tempo doesn’t make it boring. Also the drumming is equally powerful and complex and the vocals once again, absolutely perfect.

Maybe “Svartir Sandar” is closely to “Köld”, but this album shows all the band’s experience for music compositions. Sólstafir keep playing awesome post rock music, with all the psychedelic or ambient elements and the depressive attitude, in which we are used to listen. It’s hardly difficult to find a very good album with so much expression and flow of feelings. “Svartir Sandar” meet all these requirements. Both the band’s fans and the fans of post rock music, should be something more satisfied with releases like this.

Track List Line Up
Disc 1
01. Ljós í Stormi
02. Fjara
03. Þín Orð
04. Sjúki Skugginn
05. Æra
06. Kukl
Disc 2
01. Melrakkablús
02. Draumfari
03. Stinningskaldi
04. Stormfari
05. Svartir Sandar
06. Djákninn
Aðalbjörn Tryggvason – Vocals, Guitar
Sæþór Maríus Sæþórsson – Guitar
Svavar Austmann – Bass
Guðmundur Óli Pálmason – Drums

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