SÓLSTAFIR — Masterpiece Of Bitterness

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SÓLSTAFIR - Masterpiece Of Bitterness cover
4.05 | 9 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 2005


1. I Myself the Visionary Head (19:58)
2. Nature Strutter (09:26)
3. Bloodsoaked Velvet (05:21)
4. Ljósfari (08:58)
5. Ghosts of Light (08:47)
6. Ritual of Fire (14:32)
7. Náttfari (03:16)

Total Time 70:22


A1. I Myself the Visionary Head (19:58)
B1. Nature Strutter (09:26)
B2. Bloodsoaked Velvet (05:21)
C1. Ghosts of Light (08:47)
C2. Ljósfari (08:58)
D1. Devilmask (02:20)
D2. Ritual of Fire (14:32)
D3. Náttfari (03:16)

Total Time 72:38


- Svavar "Svabbi" Austmann / bass
- Guðmundur Óli Pálmason / drums
- Sæþór Maríus "Pjúddi" Sæþórsson / guitar
- Aðalbjörn "Addi" Tryggvason / guitar, vocals

Guest musician:
- Hlín Pétursdóttir / vocals (track 1)

About this release

CD released 30th December 2005 on Spikefarm Records (NAULA 072) / Fono Ltd. (FO542CD).

12" vinyl 2LP released 13th January 2013 on Svart Records (SVR104), limited to:

● 700 copies on clear vinyl
● 300 copies on red/white marble vinyl

This vinyl version has been mastered from the original unmastered mixes of the album. Also includes printed inner sleeves and a bonus track from the Masterpiece sessions. Some intros and outros are slightly different from the CD versions.

CD reissued 28th July 2017 on Spikefarm Records (Spine761630).

Cover artwork by Sandra María Sigurðardóttir/SMS.
Band Photo by Heldriver.com.

Recorded and engineered at Stúdíó Helvíti, inc. 2004 - 2005.
Mixed in 2005.
Drums recorded at Gaulverjabæjarhreppur - Iceland.
Main recordings done in Stokkseyri - Iceland.
Additional recordings done at Grettisgata - Reykjavík, and Selfoss - Iceland.
Mixed at Grettisgata and Lambhóll – Iceland.
Mastered at Finvox - Helsinki - Finland.

Thanks to Pekka, Time Signature, adg211288, Bosh66 for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

I know it's a damn cliché, but all Icelandic bands I've so far managed to hear seem to have a certain quality you'd expect coming from people growing up surrounded by massive glaciers and beautiful nature. Once while listening to this album I thought that you could get a good picture of the music if you thought about a death metal band in dirty garage rehearsal room with a breathtaking window view over the most wonderful Icelandic wilderness. I've forgotten the sub-sub-sub-genre I made up for the band, but at least it included "space", "garage" and something totally different.

Sólstafir's second full length album presents a brutal metal band capable of producing moments of great beauty. The wild female-sung intro to the massive opening track even throws in some Morriconesque western flavors. The band isn't afraid of staying in the same place for good periods of time, which becomes very clear right off in the opener I Myself the Visionary Head, when the same, deliciously rumbling bass pattern goes on for over ten minutes with things piling on top of it or just staying still. Finally the track erupts into a blast beat driven finale. I can't believe it really took 20 minutes to get there. The rest of the tracks are somewhat more concise, but many of them come near the ten minute mark or beyond it.

And if the great songs are not enough, this album has some of my favourite sound productions ever, with a totally raw, live-like and punchy sound. I especially adore the bass, which manages to carry the opening track all the way through not least because of the perfectly fat roar it makes. Also listen to the melodies in the instrumental section of Nature Strutter, I love how it comes through from under the guitars. Another highligt is the gnarly delivery of vocalist Addi Tryggvason, somewhat resembling a Roots-era Max Cavalera, only more high-pitched and more out of control.

Often you hear talk about the "that something" that certain records might or might not have. Over the years I've come to the conclusion that the tracks, the compositions themselves would merit an excellent four star album, but the overwhelming atmosphere -or "that something", if you will - I feel when listening to this masterpiece of bitterness is worth one full star.

Hear it, please.

Members reviews

Psychedelic brutality

Heavy, aggressive, raw, angry, dark, repetitive, hypnotic, mesmerizing, psychedelic. Bitter? All of these words can serve as good descriptions for the music that Solstafir plays on this album.

Sólstafir is an Icelandic band that was created in 1994 and went through several phases and demo, promo and EP releases up to the point of releasing their first full-length in 2002 and this one, their second, in 2005. Sólstafir provides a listening experience that's based on mood, power and "tripping out" with the music and not on technical playing, complexity or virtuosity. If you want to know more about the background of the band, you're welcome to read the bio I've written for them in their page in Prog Archives. Made up of 7 songs, mostly long, with the opener being almost 20 minutes, this album can be exhausting (in a good way) and one needs to be in a proper mood to absorb its entire 70 minutes. The length, however, doesn't mean the songs harbor diversity or are complex epics; rather it should tell you of their inclination to create lengthy metallic freakout. At times it sounds like long repetitive and endless jams. That is, they go on for quite a while in their hypnotic riffing (which can be either slow or fast), and thus create a particular mood that can serve as a good companion to chill out or float away with your thoughts; that is until Aðalbjörn Tryggvason, the vocalist, resumes his screams. The vocals are mostly harsh screaming which to me seem to fit the music quite well, although at times can be too much or out of place; they complete very well the feel of the music and add to the intensity level. The thing is that when they're jamming or more accurately in their trance mode, it can be a bit tedious and too long; but when they garner up speed and energy, it's fabulous. Their dynamic side is impossible for me to ignore or let go by unnoticed; it's too thrilling and catchy and makes me shake my head or legs. Add to that the heaviness of their music and it can be a crushing experience. The guitars come crumbling down on my ears unmercifully and raw sounding, enhanced by the aforementioned vocals and with the blasting drums, one gets an ear a "devastating" listening experience. There are songs like Ljósfari, which have a haunting catchy melodic peak (yes, melodic). Those are great moments in the album, though not found often enough in my opinion.

A Masterpiece Of Bitterness is an angry album; it's heavy and raw. It's a great album to let loose your energies with. It's powerful and can be almost hypnotic in the parts where they play those ongoing riffs continuously. It's an effective and well made metal release but not an outstanding one. I do enjoy listening to it but there are some flaws as I mentioned in the review that prevent me from enjoying it more, such as some over-repetitiveness. I also think they should introduce more variety into their songs; there are places where I feel they could have gone further on and develop the theme or idea more and make the song more interesting and thus even more compelling to listen to.

I'm intrigued to see whether the band's next album will be in a similar vein or will they progress from this point onwards.

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  • Unitron
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  • Proteus Licantropho

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