Solefald is just a cool band and they have been for a long time. I first got into their stuff with the epic Red for Fire: An Icelandic Odyssey which came out in 2005 and that record has maintained a standard place in my discography because of its amazing blending of black metal, progressive metal and rock and unique Norse sounds. While I was not equally as impressed with Black for Death and I’ve been a bit hit or miss on some of the band’s older material, I’ve always appreciated the band’s unique approach to the music they produce and their intensely creative outputs. Nothing they have put out has really disappointed me, it’s just a matter of being more or less into it.
This time around, there is absolutely no worry about being into it, however. From the opening strains of “Song Til Stormen” I was completely hooked. Part of this is just because I think that vocalist Lars Nedland’s (Lazare as he’s better known) vocals are just lights out. His harmonies and melodic ideas are completely unique, addictive and stand out on everything he’s involved in. For example, despite not knowing it at the time, the reason I fell for the first Ásmegin record was because of his vocals, and Norrøn Livskunst is no exception to this rule. His vocals and harmonies are as amazing as usual, standing out over everything.
Of course, let’s not forget that an amazing vocalist singing over shitty music doesn’t make the music any better, and this record doesn’t contain a shitty moment. While there is a bit more down tempo material than I would necessarily choose myself, the music on here is crafted with a great blend of black metal and other forms which make for an entertaining combination. For example, I believe that “Tittentattenteksti”, with another fantastic vocal cameo from Agnete Kjølsrud (Djerv and also did a cameo on the new Dimmu Borgir), is the first time that any band has ever scat talked on a metal CD. “Vitets Vid i Verdi” (which also features a cameo from Agnete), another amazing track, blends saxophone reminiscent of 50s rock with keyboards and a seriously infectious grooves. And I could go on and on about every track on the record, they’re all just as good.
This amazing writing, the vocal performances and the unique approach to metal is what makes Solefald such an incredible band. And the material on this record is as good as anything else they’ve ever produced and definitely up there with any other record that I’ve heard this year and fans of the band’s last two records will definitely be pleased to hear a third installment in the Icelandic Odyssey series (which rules). Norrøn Livskunst is a record that I recommend not just to fans but to anyone who is interested in unique metal with an eye towards aesthetics and norm bending. I wish more metal musicians were as willing to take all their influences and work them into their records like Solefald is; the scene would be a much more interesting and innovative place.