Oct 282020


(This is Andy Synn’s review of the new album by Iceland’s Sólfstafir, which is due for release on November 6 via Season of Mist.)

Once upon a time, in the distant town of Reykjavik, a group of Black Metal loving, cowboy hat wearing, Post-Rock playing urban vikings decided to form a band.

Calling themselves Sólfstafir and drawing from a broad spectrum of influences – ranging from Nirvana, Neurosis and U2 to Ulver, Enslaved, and Explosions in the Sky – the group soon began to make waves, both at home and abroad, but it wasn’t until the release of 2009’s sublime, spine-tingling Köld, which expanded the band’s sound into even grungier, proggier, and more atmospheric territory, that they truly came into their own.

Two years later they followed this up with what is widely considered to be their magnum opus (and one of the few modern double-albums where every song is is a winner), Svartir Sandar, cementing their status as one of the most unique, dynamic, and creative Rock/Metal bands on the planet.

But then… something changed. Slowly but surely they began to soften their edges and smooth out many of the rougher, more interesting textures which had defined their sound. And although the more sombre vibe of 2014’s Ótta still made for an emotive and engaging listening experience for the most part, by the time 2017’s Berdreyminn rolled around things had become, barring a few stand-out moments, pretty bland overall, even as the group’s fame and fortune continued to rise.

The thing is, it seems like even the band themselves must have been feeling like they’d lost their way a little, as the press materials and interviews for their new album explicitly refer to a desire to return to the style and spirit of their early days… which brings us to Endless Twilight of Codependent Love. Continue reading »

Sep 052020


For me, this past work-week was much like the one before (and the one before that, and the one before that), i.e., I had to devote so much time to the fucking day job that I couldn’t keep up with the usual flood of new metal, much less pull together any new-music round-ups. This morning I spent some time trying to catch up, at least a little, and from that exercise I picked the following nine new songs and videos.

I arranged things in a particular way — beginning with something that’s rousing, then going down into sadness (verging on despair) with a block of songs that happen to include clean singing, then beginning to pull out of that mood with reminders that not not everything is horrible (and with music that’s more extreme), and then concluding with something that ought to perk you up again.


Six months ago my Serbian friend Miloš pointed me to “Pjevanija prva” (“Cry of Yore”), the fantastic first song released by the Serbian band Gavranovi (a word that means “ravens”). I still know very little about the band, though now I know a bit more than I did then.

Gavranovi’s frontman is Nefas, who was the vocalist for the great black metal band The Stone for almost 20 years. A second member, Janković, who seems to be the principal instrumentalist, plays the gusle, a traditional horsehair-string instrument that dates back to the 9th century. And there are three more members, all of whom also perform vocals — Matković (who’s also credited as a guitarist), Sokolović, and Rančić. Continue reading »

Aug 062020


Two old favorites released new singles yesterday, and not just bands who’ve been personal favorites for a very long time but bands whose music has continually evolved, which added a big curiosity factor to the experience. I’m beginning the round-up with those two tracks. As we’re want to do around here, I’m then moving into music from bands I’d never heard of before yesterday, bands whose profiles are buried far deeper in the underground than the first two.


The beautiful animated video for Gojira’s new song is sufficiently engrossing that it pulled my focus away from the song when I first saw it. I definitely had impressions of the music, but needed to listen to it again without watching the video to better appreciate what the band were doing. The video is indebted to a certain work by the French author Pierre Boulle, but it’s especially haunting because of the perils of our current existence. Continue reading »

Jun 172019


(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first of three posts we will publish in as many days about the recently completed Ascension Festival MMXIX, which took place in Mosfellsbær, Iceland, on June 13-15, 2019. These are Andy Synn‘s impressions of the event, and the next two are being written by Islander., who took the photos included here, unless otherwise noted)

As the title above indicates, I recently celebrated my birthday (all presents and donations will be graciously accepted), and this year decided to celebrate it in style by attending Ascension Festival in Iceland, where the brooding darkness and overall brilliance of the music was matched only by the brightness of the ever-present sunshine and the brilliance of the company.

So what you’re about to read is a few random thoughts about the experience which, while not totally comprehensive (although I made sure to see something of every band, I’ve decided only to write about the ones which really stood out), should hopefully convince one or two of you to join us at next year’s edition! Continue reading »

Jun 122019


I had grand ambitions for this post, with many more selections than you’re seeing here. I also had the goal of posting it yesterday before I left for the airport to begin a trip to Iceland. That’s where I am now, having arrived foggy-eyed and fuzzy-headed at Keflavik Airport this morning after a red-eye flight. I obviously didn’t get this done in time for yesterday, and had to cut it back to finish in time for today,


I’m a huge Tau Cross fan, and therefore was excited to see yesterday’s announcement by Relapse Records that a new album named Messengers of Deception will be released on August 9th. Equally exciting, the band rolled out a video for a new song to mark the occasion. Continue reading »

Jun 042017


More than a week has passed since the last time I compiled a round-up of new music for our site, the delay mainly caused by my MDF trip to Baltimore. As I look at the over-stuffed schedule of premieres lined up for the coming week, it may be another week before I can do another one.

Needless to say, I have a dramatically large list of new and newly discovered music from which to make selections. There’s not much rhyme or reason to my choices for this round-up, except of course that I like all of them — and hope you will too.


I’ve been a devoted fan of Sólstafir for many years, staying with them as their music has evolved and their fame has grown. Yet we’ve written very little about the band’s new album Berdreyminn. I suspect one reason is that when most of us here decide what to write about, we tend to favor bands who could use a little extra support rather than those who are already getting voluminous amounts of attention from sites with a far broader reach than ours. And Sólstafir are certainly in that category now. Continue reading »

Apr 162016

Solstafir-Legend live


As you may have discerned by now, I enjoy not only recommending new music in these round-ups but also selecting items for them that don’t all come from the same genres of metal. For this Saturday collection of recent discoveries, however, there’s perhaps more variety than usual because I’ve partially gone outside the realms of metal. This is always a risky maneuver because I so rarely listen to anything that isn’t metal. I don’t know how dependable my metal tastes are, but when I veer off those pathways I’m pretty sure my taste isn’t dependable at all. Self-doubt has never held me back, though, so here we go….


More than two years ago I wrote (here) about a split release by two Icelandic bands, Sólstafir and Legend, in which each of them covered a song originally recorded by the other. In Sólstafir‘s case, they put their stamp on a Legend song called “Runaway Train”.

Yesterday the two bands released a video in which members of both groups joined together last fall for a live performance of that same song from the split (which they had earlier recorded together at Studio Neptunus). The performance occurred in an abandoned industrial factory and was filmed by Brynjar Snær Þrastarson and edited by him and Frosti Jon Rúnólfsson. Continue reading »

Nov 132015

Damnation Festival 2015


(Andy Synn provides this report on the 2015 edition of Damnation Festival in the UK.)

It’s been a few years now since I last attended Damnation Festival, the annual celebration of all things dark and metallic hosted (as always) at Leeds University Student’s Union. But this year I knew I simply couldn’t miss it, as not only were a number of my favourite bands playing (hello Sólstafir, hi there Primordial) but also two bands I’ve been a fan of since their very first albums, but whom I’d never actually managed to see live before (The Ocean, Altar of Plagues).

Oh, and some band named At The Gates. Who are apparently pretty famous or something. Continue reading »

Jul 292015



(Here’s a thought piece by Andy Synn about a topic that we as reviewers have pondered more than once.)

Ok, so… originally this was just once piece. But, over the course of writing it, it began to snowball and expand beyond the original specifications. So it seemed only sensible to split it up, first into two, then into three, separate columns – that way you can pick and choose whatever parts most grab your fancy (and ignore the others).

Sound good?

Anyway, I’ve been kicking around some thoughts, feelings, and questions with various friends and compatriots recently, all to do with the idea of what it means to compare one band with another – when it’s appropriate, how frequently to do it, and how to do it right.

Because, and I’m pretty sure you’ll all be with me on this, over the years I’ve seen it done right, and I’ve seen it done very, very wrong…

Which leads us to Comparative Metallurgy, a three-part infosplurge of spurious factoids and absolutely bulletproof opinions about the use, abuse, and over-use, of comparisons between bands. Continue reading »

Jun 032015


Those of you who have been fortunate enough to see Sólstafir on tour recently will have noticed the absence of the band’s founding drummer Guðmundur (“Gummi”) Óli Pálmason. Today he released a long personal statement about the reasons for his absence. In a nutshell, the other band members “fired” him from the band before the beginning of the recently completed North American tour, both sides have retained lawyers, and there are obviously some very hard feelings in the aftermath of this split. Most of Gummi’s grievances are directed against the band’s vocalist/guitarist Aðalbjörn “Addi” Tryggvason.

I almost decided not to write this post. I have met both Gummi and Addi. I had fairly regular communications via the internet with Gummi over several years as we have covered what is one of our favorite bands on the planet, and I had some long conversations with Addi during Sólstafir’s two recent visits to Seattle. I certainly can’t say that I know either of them very well, but based on the time I spent with them, I liked them both a great deal — and of course I greatly admire what they have accomplished in Sólstafir. So, this controversy is for me a sad occurrence, more so than when things like this happen within other beloved bands whose members I don’t personally know.

Addi told me about what had happened between the band and Gummi after Sólstafir’s show in Seattle in early May, explaining that because of the legal entanglement, the band could not make any public statement. He was very respectful of Gummi when he spoke of him, and seemed very sad about what had happened, rather than angry. It didn’t seem my place to say anything about these events on our site, so I kept it to myself. Continue reading »