Solefald
The Linear Scaffold


5.0
classic

Review

by HSThomas USER (33 Reviews)
July 6th, 2010 | 41 replies


Release Date: 1997 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Madness unfolds in mastery.

The nineties were a good decade for black metal. Classics such as Burzum's Hvis Lyset Tar Oss and Immortal's At the Heart of Winter were released. In 1997 The Linear Scaffold was released from rather humble beginnings but today it is held in high esteem by many because it was the product of two creatively insane minds.

The sheer plethora of musical ideas alone is testament to this. Shoegaze, symphonic black metal, black metal, folk metal... nothing was sacred to Cornelius Jakhelln and Lazare Nedland. The sheer weight of the ideas suggests this album will be one that implode into a sonic void. Indeed this seems to be the case in the opening track "Jernlov" opening with the plucked strings of an acoustic guitar before hitting the listener with a wall of symphonic strings and detuned guitar riffs. However it is the essence of this album, the balance of extremes, of tact and tastelessness. High-flung symphonics are contrasted with detuned guitars and deep bass-lines, the quiet piano sections of "Floating Magenta" are contrasted with the extremes of "The Macho Vehicle," yet these are just two examples of this balance. It is balance that waxes and wanes throughout the album, between and within the songs. It is extensive in its extremes but it never falls apart due to the threads of melody woven throughout the sonic lunacy. The melodies are attractive enough to be memorable yet are tight enough to coalesce everything into one complete body of work. This ability to combine disparate elements this effectively is alone commendable but along with this level of skill, the two musicians have infused vision as well.

The musicians' vision is communicated through every aspect of the songs. The choices of instrumentation, song structure etc. all point to this purpose because they reference black metal conventions and consequently the albums that created these conventions. The rigid juxtaposition of acoustic and electric elements within "The Macho Vehicle" is reminiscent of Ulver's Bergtatt and the symphonics of "Jernlov" or "Philosophical Revolt" are referencing the flights of fancy within the works of Dimmu Borgir. It is these self-referential elements that show the musicians' awareness of genre conventions yet these genre conventions are parodied throughout. The use of comedy instruments such as the kazoo within "Red View" mock the excessive instrumentation many symphonic bands employ and this, to the two musicians, is one excess among many. The hyperbolic "choir" vocals, the speed of the guitars, the ridiculousness of the symphonic strings... all display Solefald's disgust for the popular clich├ęs and excesses employed not just in black metal but all forms of music. It is this level of revulsion that allows the album a level of separation from its peers. To quote Terry Eagleton the album "springs from a crisis of bourgeois ideology, but it has no simple correspondence with that crisis..."* It is a product of multifarious genres yet it has no particular attachment to any one, only an equal level of contempt. However this is only half the story.

As much as the band shows cynicism for the genre, the independent sphere that the album inhabits allows for the musicians' vision not to be constrained by its introspective vision on genre instead allowing for the vision to expand outwards as much as inwards. The lyrics of "Countryside Bohemians" dwell upon the wanton materialism of humanity and, in particular, the upper-classes while "Red View" insults the micro-minded mentality and hypocrisy of the Marxist view, calling believers "red view vermin." These lyrics are poetic, sometimes ambigious yet sometimes overt but always exhibiting this cynical view of the world, a subject that is compounded by a great level of fatalism. The melodies that connect this album together are representations of this fatalism, they inevitably carry the antiphonal elements along towards their doomed fate, each melody becoming more desperate than the last. Equally as the songs progress the instruments become more reflective of the impending end. The touches of reverb upon the bass on "Countryside Bohemians" and the flair of synthesisers upon "Tequila Sunrise" reflect the vision of all boundaries between subjects being blurred and destroyed in rorschach madness. It is this nihilistic view of the end of the world that shows the more sombre emotions from Solefald in their songwriting. The quieter and more restrained sections such as "Floating Magenta" showcase a heavy sense of foreboding, fear and sadness with the subdued vocals and the piano. These emotions feel more personal than the frenzied terror of "The Moon Upon The Wave" and again highlight this album's ability to be both introspective and extrospective. It is through this clash of both personal and worldly emotions, the cynical and the sober within all forms that create voids for the the listener to be able to sit within and watch as the world collapses around them.

It is this ability to involve the listener with such a cohesive vision of humanity's self-inflicted armageddon that makes this album so powerful. It can be quite overwhelming, the merciless wall of symphonics and detuned guitars providing a very unfriendly welcome to the album upon "Jernlov", or one or two elements, in particular the high-pitched screams, can grate upon the first listen. However once this album has grabbed the spectator within its dark embrace, it blossoms within the ears. It paints a vivid portrait of the world ending, not upon a bang but a single, solitary scream...


(From Terry Eagleton's essay; "Marxist Criticism"; Pg.249 in "Literature In the Modern World" Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004, Second Edition.)



Recent reviews by this author
Jefre Cantu-Ledesma Love is a StreamJames Murphy Convergence
Morser 10,000 Bad Guys DeadHelmet Meantime
Secede Bye Bye Gridlock TrafficIntegrity Systems Overload
user ratings (103)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
accompliceofmydeath
July 6th 2010


4606 Comments


I don't even like black metal but, I'll check this out just because you're reviewing it. Also, Poison Idea ftw.

Digging: Nerf Herder - Nerf Herder

accompliceofmydeath
July 6th 2010


4606 Comments


Just listened to Jernlov. I just can't get into black metal. Damn my stupid hardcore-y-ness. Great review though, as
always.

BallsToTheWall
July 6th 2010


48088 Comments


Next dog I get, I'm naming him/her Cornelius.

Digging: Root - The Book

BallsToTheWall
July 6th 2010


48088 Comments


Band but Cornelis Fudge FTW.


Also anyone looking to get into black metal must search out the rawest most hateful, neo-nazi, animal skinning necro shit out there,for the true musical spirit of black metal. it's not about flutes and melodies it's fucking misanthropic anti religious rage.

scissorlocked
July 7th 2010


3527 Comments


Solefald have always been an interesting band with great vision,but I've never paid the apropriate attention

Is this a good album to begin??

Wizard
July 7th 2010


20114 Comments


One of the worst metal bands I've ever heard in my life. Preparing my review for Black For Death: An Icelandic Odyssey Part 2. This was no better but good review nonetheless.

Wizard
July 7th 2010


20114 Comments


Kataxu - Hunger of Elements. I've been really enjoying that one lately.

Hawks
July 14th 2010


51066 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Excellent album.

Digging: Mur - Heartworn

Willie
Moderator
July 14th 2010


17283 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This album blew me away the first time that I heard it. The screams took a little getting used to, but it didn't take long. Unfortunately, they've never had as good of an album since.

Digging: Samael - Hegemony

Hawks
July 14th 2010


51066 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I loved the screams right away. Sounds to me like a mix of Varg and the old vocalist for Hecate Enthroned.

Ponton
Emeritus
July 14th 2010


6118 Comments


The screams killed this for me. I've always heard good things about In Harmonia Universali, though apparently it's a lot different than this

Digging: Movements - Feel Something

Willie
Moderator
July 14th 2010


17283 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It is a lot different than this, and it doesn't have any of the screams so you may like that one (it's probably their second-best album).

Hawks
July 14th 2010


51066 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Willie I'm trying to download Neonism right now since you said that should be the next thing I should get after this. Hopefully I'll enjoy it just as much.

Ponton
Emeritus
July 14th 2010


6118 Comments


I'll give it a try eventually and then good back to this too to see if I can get used to the type of screams like you did

Willie
Moderator
July 14th 2010


17283 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Willie I'm trying to download Neonism right now since you said that should be the next thing I should get

after this. Hopefully I'll enjoy it just as much.


You probably won't because none of them top this, but it's definitely their strangest album.



I'll give it a try eventually and then good back to this too to see if I can get used to the type of screams like

you did




Just focus on the music and the vocals kind of just seep in ;)

Hawks
July 14th 2010


51066 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Well good point. This one was absolutely amazing on the first listen. I could definitely see this reaching a 5 with some more listens. I'll listen to Neonism after I'm done with the Malsain album.

Willie
Moderator
July 14th 2010


17283 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Cool. If you like Malsain that would be the coolest to see reviewed (although it probably won't get much traffic since most people won't know who they are).

Hawks
July 14th 2010


51066 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Well I'm 3 tracks into the Malsain album and I'm definitely liking it so far. If it keeps going like this I'm looking at a 3.5 for that album. I'll probably review both that and Neonism once I give them each a few listens. I want to start reviewing more since I think I'm getting better at it.

Willie
Moderator
July 14th 2010


17283 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yeah, you are.

Hawks
July 14th 2010


51066 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks dude.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy