Icelandic band SÓLSTAFIR just released their latest studio album, poetically titled “Endless Twilight of Codependent Love.” The band is known for their rebellious songwriting, transcending traditional song structures, and the breathtaking natural surroundings of their homeland, which greatly inspire their music. Their sound flows like a river, wherever it wants to go, and it seems to have carved yet another new path through stone with this seventh album.
The cover is a remarkable piece of artwork, painted in watercolor by Johann Baptist Zwecker in 1864, it depicts The Lady of the Mountain. She is the female personification of Iceland, whose painted likeness first appeared in a book of Icelandic folk tales, but only recently the original painting found its way back home. No wonder SÓLSTAFIR chose this image, as it turns out to be a beautiful tribute to their country of origin.
SÓLSTAFIR’s audience has never been more diverse, and I think this is mostly due to the band always staying true to themselves as musicians. They experiment with different genres and styles of songwriting until new musical magic unfolds, creating ripples all over the world. It seems that they can get away with just about anything. From black metal in their earliest work to post-metal and post-rock, the band has fluctuated between a broad spectrum of sound. Needless to say, this got me quite excited to find out where they have decided to go next, and I am definitely not the only one.
I count nine tracks on “Endless Twilight of Codependent Love,” but the first three songs alone have an accumulated playtime of close to thirty minutes. This is partly what I meant when I stated that SÓLSTAFIR seems to get away with anything; there are not many bands that can open a record like this without having the listener’s attention slip away. Opener “Akkeri” immediately sets the tone for the rest of the album, with a grand build-up mostly consisting of post-rock elements that unfold gradually and flow into each other beautifully. This first track feels warmly familiar, with its deeply atmospheric melancholia.
What follows only accentuates the remarkable musicianship and intelligent songwriting that SÓLSTAFIR has come to be known and loved for. With versatile, multidimensional tracks like “Drýsill” and “Rökkur,” they draw the listener deeper into the atmosphere created in opening track “Akkeri.” I spot a wide array of influences ranging from DARKTHRONE to even PINK FLOYD, constructing interesting soundscapes that become an endless inspiration themselves. In tracks like the bluesy “Or” and full-blown insane “Dionysus,” the Icelandic quartet shows yet another side of what is quickly becoming a very shiny diamond. Every song is a standalone piece of art that you find yourself revisiting, only to discover more intricate details during each listen.
Throughout the years, SÓLSTAFIR‘s lyrical themes have evolved quite a bit. The latest shift is one towards topics concerning mental health, and it really hits home for anyone who has dealt with this in one way or another. “Her Fall From Grace” particularly resonated with me, as it is a very personal song to vocalist/guitarist Aðalbjörn Tryggvason, about watching someone close to him suffer from mental illness. The fact that this is the only English track on the album is pure coincidental. Although most of the lyrics are in Icelandic, the sheer emotion of SÓLSTAFIR‘s music is a language anyone can understand, which makes this latest record reach unprecedented heights.
In short, SÓLSTAFIR has most certainly done it again. “Endless Twilight of Codependent Love” is a record that comes at you from every side, almost brutally emotional yet wildly well-constructed. There is no meaningless note to be found, not a single moment where the Icelanders lose touch with the sheer magic of their sound. Allow yourself to get carried away by this album like you find yourself drifting on a river, and you will find it takes you places you never imagined before.
Written by Jana De Boeck
- Her Fall From Grace
- Til Moldar
- Alda Syndanna
Aðalbjörn Tryggvason – Guitar, Vocals
Svavar Austmann – Bass
Sæþór Maríus Sæþórsson – Guitar
Hallgrímur Jón Hallgrímsson – Drums, Backing Vocals
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