Solefald
Norron Livskunst


4.5
superb

Review

by Trey Spencer STAFF
November 18th, 2010 | 127 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: If you don’t like a little black metal tongue in your cheek, then you might want to keep your mouth shut.

How much do you have to piss someone off before they start sending you death threats? In the age of the internet, it probably doesn’t take much. If you include the fact that the people making the threats were a group of fun-seekers known as black metal fans, it’s easy to assume that it was probably just something for them to do before they ate their Count Chocula in the morning. Regardless of motive, Solefald’s first album prompted these sunny individuals to start making death threats from their evil tree-forts and gave rise to the band’s self-proclaimed genre: red music with black edges. The description was just supposed to be an amusing way to convince these pasty-faced individuals to find something else to threaten, but it ended up sticking. In hindsight, it turns out that ‘red music with black edges’ is the perfect way to describe the bands continually evolving blend of black metal and whatever-the-hell-else.

It’s no exaggeration to state that over the course of Solefald’s previous six albums they’ve crammed enough random ideas and genres into their black metal foundation that a whole other write-up would be required to hit them all. Suffice it to say that with an ‘anything goes’ attitude some of their ideas have really worked and some have failed miserably. Solefald’s latest album, Norron Livskunst, actually takes a step away from the extreme eccentricity of their previous albums by including a bit of what worked from every previous release and delivering it in a relatively streamlined black metal package. It picks up where the Icelandic Odyssey albums left off by including a bit of subtle folk and focusing on Norway’s past, but eliminates the tedious spoken-word poetic passages. In addition, they’ve taken the Norwegian heritage angle one step further by presenting a majority of the lyrics in an archaic form of Norwegian, called Høgnorsk. With all of the talk of Norwegian folk and streamlined black metal, some may be concerned that the band has lost the eclectic edge that has endeared them to fans, but they have not.

Norron Livskunst features the proggy melodies and densely layered vocals of In Harmonia Universali, but in a much more developed form. In fact, Lar’s vocal arrangements are easily some of the most sophisticated and layered of any Solefald album; featuring deep growls, black metal shieks and both male and female singing. They’ve also restored a bit of the black&roll of Pills Against The Ageless Ills, but with more of an emphasis on the black metal part of that pairing. This rock element will often sneak into a song as a fast black metal-style melody slowly transitions towards a groovy riff that is fully-formed before anyone ever realizes the change took place. The biggest point of contention for the average metal listener will be the fact that the band has completely re-embraced the warped, ‘black metal can be fun’ attitude of Neonism. This attitude manifests itself in every song as random tongue-in-cheek elements will flash to the forefront – such as the scatting by guest vocalist Agnete Kjølsrud on “Tittentattenteksti” or the electronica with cowbell of “Vitets Vidd I Verdi”. It also manifests itself in more subtle ways, such as an overtly poppy backing vocal over the main black metal rasp or a dark tremolo-picked lead that suddenly shifts into something stolen from a carnival song.

Norron Livskunst can still be described as ‘red music with black edges,’ but the black edges are definitely more prominent than ever before. This consistent black metal foundation works perfectly, though, as the band delve into any idea that has ever worked for them while keeping things fresh and interesting. In fact, Norron Livskunst is a totally comprehensive album that effortlessly encompasses Solefald’s entire history by using their good ideas, ignoring the elements that have never really worked, and delivering a collection of their strongest material to date. It’s a career-defining album that should thrill any current fan of the band and frustrate anybody that wants their metal totally serious.



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user ratings (77)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
November 18th 2010


16116 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

They're streaming "Vitets Vidd I Verdi" here:

http://www.myspace.com/solefaldofficial

Digging: Kenn Nardi - Dancing With the Past

Wizard
November 18th 2010


19607 Comments


So I have to sit through this album now? hahahaha

Great review. This line totally makes me curious but turns me off at the same time:

ignoring the elements that have never really worked, and delivering a collection of their strongest material to date. It’s a career-defining album that should thrill any current fan of the band and frustrate anybody that wants their metal totally serious.

Digging: Earth - Primitive and Deadly

Willie
Moderator
November 18th 2010


16116 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Yeah, it won't work for people that aren't prepared to accept anything off-the-wall and totally out of place every once in a while (just read the sound-offs to see what I mean), but it does drop some of the worst offenders from previous albums and also glosses over the stranger aspects with more black metal influences.

This is definitely in my top 3.



Wizard
November 18th 2010


19607 Comments


Luckily I woke up feeling a tid-bit goofy this morning ; ). So far, this feels like the type of music you have to be in the right mood for. I usually where corpse paint and look grim for the most part so it's understandable why this music doesn't really do much for me. Not bad so far though.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
November 18th 2010


6269 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Trey, why is your review placed in the users' "production line" in the metal sector?

a site bug probably.

Digging: Fly Golden Eagle - Quartz Bijou

Willie
Moderator
November 18th 2010


16116 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

You'd probably like this, Voivod.

Anyway, for some reason on the genre-specific pages staff reviews end up on the general section and the staff section, but they're not on the staff section if they're on the featured area... so... did I make things perfectly murky?

Luckily I woke up feeling a tid-bit goofy this morning ; ). So far, this feels like the type of music you have to be in the right mood for. I usually where corpse paint and look grim for the most part so it's understandable why this music doesn't really do much for me. Not bad so far though.
Yeah, this is definitely something that you have to be in the right mood for (like Mr. Bungle or Thought Industry). What song are you listening to?

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
November 18th 2010


6269 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i have Neonism from them, although i didn't give it much attention.

That's what happens when someone gets more albums that he can actually absorb...

Solefald is a band that i definitely want to get into.

Willie
Moderator
November 18th 2010


16116 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Yeah. I've considered doing a blog about how the internet has kind of made music feel more disposable.... anyway, this is a good album to start with and I definitely reccomend doing it in time to include it on any 2010 list ;)

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
November 18th 2010


7026 Comments


This sounds terrible.

Willie
Moderator
November 18th 2010


16116 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Have you heard it.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
November 18th 2010


16466 Comments


Review turned out awesome Trey. Still considering a listen to this, unsure of whether I can handle the tongue-in-cheek approach to black metal though because I typically stick to the serious krieg business.

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
November 18th 2010


16137 Comments


Great review. Love the summary especially. Not sure if I'll like this or not either, but I'm definitely up to give it a shot.

Willie
Moderator
November 18th 2010


16116 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Still considering a listen to this, unsure of whether I can handle the tongue-in-cheek approach to black metal though because I typically stick to the serious krieg business.
Yeah, if there is a Solefald album that you won't hate it's either this one or their debut. I love the strange stuff though.

Great review. Love the summary especially. Not sure if I'll like this or not either, but I'm definitely up to give it a shot.
Yeah, the summary is just based on the fact that there will probably be a lot of people talking shit about this album even before they hear it (and some afterwards, too) even though they don't even like the entire style to begin with.

jingledeath
November 18th 2010


7104 Comments


I've never listened to this band but the review has piqued my interest. Will get asap.

xfearbefore
November 18th 2010


1246 Comments


"it's like listening to the Gestapo perform YMCA"

Read that soundoff. Now must check this out immediately, because that's one of the most bizarre descriptions for any music I've ever heard in my life.

Digging: Negative Approach - Tied Down

Hawks
November 18th 2010


35838 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Downloading this now. I've only heard The Linear Scaffold and Neonism and love them both so I'm expecting to like this one too.

Also, this is an excellent review Willie.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
November 18th 2010


6269 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Although i admit it is eccentric enough, it didn't move me much...

i can't get used to the clean vocals, for some reason.


acorncheese
November 18th 2010


7119 Comments


seinfeld?

Plainviewguy
November 18th 2010


17 Comments


Excellent review! I will be checking these guys out asap.

Hawks
November 18th 2010


35838 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I don't know why anyone would give this under a 3.5, it rules.



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