Review Summary: Black metal shouldn't have techno remixes... who'd have thought?
If we had to title our reviews I would name this one I Blame Fear Factory
. I blame them for causing other bands to think that it’s ok to release techno/industrial remixes of their songs. I blame Fear Factory because their first remix album, Fear is the Mindkiller
, was actually really good. That quality gave other bands the false impression that their remixes would be good too, when in fact it’s generally not true. In my experience, of all the metal subgenres to suffer from horrible remixes none have been as horrendously bad as the ones released by black metal bands. Apparently that fact was missed by the duo that make up Solefald because after six full length albums they have decided to get into the remix trend with predictably mediocre results.
While Solefald isn’t your typical black metal band they share enough in common with them to suffer from the same problems. The main problem is that most black metal bands derive their power from their atmosphere and epic arrangements, and those two elements are always the first to go when remixed. That fact renders a song such as “Sun I Call” from Red For Fire
weak and forgettable. The slow build up of the original is entirely lost in favor of an electronic beat that runs from start to finish without any dynamics to speak of. In addition, the vocals have been processed into a thin, reverb-filled shadow of their former self and the black metal finale is non-existent. This issue of ruining the atmosphere and appeal of the original track through a blatant disregard for anything that made the original interesting runs rampant throughout this album.
The second problem is that a majority of these remixes lack any originality. They simply take a techno beat, layer some synth and then endlessly loop a few random elements of the original song. That formula seems to be standard operating procedure for metal remixes and it definitely is for this album. The songs that do deviate from that formula do so only by forgoing any relation to the original song, and I don’t mean that in a good way. I mean that there are songs on this album that are related to the original track in name only. These tracks lack any real identifiable elements from the original song, which leaves us with generic techno songs that happen to fall under the Solefald moniker.
One song that suffers from that lack of identifying elements is “Fluorescent (The Total Orchestra)” from Neonism
. The high speed black metal of the original has been replaced with beats that alternate between hip-hop and drum&bass, and none of the original’s sounds or melodies have found their way into this version. If nothing else, the remix of “Fluorescent” at least has some redeeming musical qualities even if it had nothing in common with the original, but “There is Need” doesn’t even have that. The remix for that song has taken the original’s screeching guitar noise and added additional white noise, a few useless samples and stretched it out for an agonizing five minutes. It’s boring, and worse than that is it’s simply noise in its worse form. The only thing that stops this album from being completely horrible is the fact that the band was kind of enough to include a remastered version of their Jernlov
demo as well.
Those that have been into the band for awhile will already recognize two of the songs on this demo from their debut album, The Linear Scaffold
. Other than a rawer sound and a bit more aggression there is not much difference between them and their higher quality counterparts. The main draw here is that the demo has been remastered and there are also two songs that cannot be found on any other release. The original demo suffered from a thin sound that rendered the drums hollow and the guitars nothing more than reverberating white noise most of the time, but the remastered version has fixed that. The riffs are now identifiable and the drums, while still sounding dull, are at least solid now. This better sound now allows the songs that previously couldn’t be found anywhere else to finally be listenable.
While the original demo displayed hints of quality through its thin production this remastered version has finally allowed them to shine. “Motmenneske” is a violent song where Cornelius Jakhelln’s screech sounds like it is going to rip his vocal chords apart. I’ve never heard him scream more viscerally than on that song. There is also a very fast, proggy bass run that goes through the opening moments of the song and displays the progressive nature that would run rampant in later releases. “Sivillisasjonens Sloer” is an epic seven minute song with many different sections ranging from subdued, clean guitar interludes to raging black metal screeches, but it is definitely a little underdeveloped which is probably why it didn’t make it to their debut album. Despite the improved sound of the demo songs they’re still basically raw and primal and aren’t going to appeal to anyone that isn’t simply a huge Solefald fan, and therein lays the problem.
The problem is that this release is basically an album of two halves for fans of the band and a complete waste of time for the average listener. While the demo songs do sound better than they used to, no one is going to care unless they’re really into the band. Unfortunately, those fans are also going to have to deal with an album full of remixes that ruin the original at best and sound nothing like them at worse. For the average listener there is nothing special about the demo songs (get their debut album instead and you’re not missing anything) and there’s even less special about listening to techno under the Solefald moniker. Basically, unless you really love the band and want to hear the two songs that aren’t found anywhere else, this album isn’t essential to you or anyone else.