Jun 222014

Photo © Metal Chris

You may have noticed that I haven’t written anything for our site for a few days.  I’ve been hanging out with family and friends in Austin, Texas, the hallowed place of my birth.  There has been much eating, drinking, and merriment, but almost no time for metal. I’m thinking I can get back to my normal routine after getting back to Seattle tonight. But although I haven’t been listening to much music, I do have a few things to spread around today.


Today is the last day of HELLFEST in Clisson, France. The French site Arte.tv has been webcasting performances from the festival, and I thought I’d mention that Iceland’s Sólstafir will be performing today. As best I can figure, their set will start at 1:00 pm Pacific Time and 10:00 pm local time in Clisson.

I’ve seen Sólstafir perform live on a grand total of one occasion, but based on that experience I highly recommend you watch this.  I’ve embedded the stream player after the jump, but in case that doesn’t work for you, go HERE.

UPDATE:  Sólstafir’s set has obviously now been completed, but I’ve substituted the archived footage of the show after the jump. Continue reading »

Jun 122014

Here are some new things I found over the last 24 hours that I thought were worth sharing around. I’m doing my best to finish a review, so I’m going to atypically attempt to be brief. I know this will cause mass depression among readers, but that’s just the way it has to be.


As previously reported, the next album by Iceland’s Sólstafir is named Ótta and will be released by Season of Mist on August 29 in Europe and September 2 in North America. Today the album became available for pre-order in triple-LP format (here) and the cover art was disclosed (above). I don’t know what thinking is behind the use of this photo or how it relates to the music and/or lyrics, but I like it — such a dramatic setting, and such a fascinating face. Bought it.

Also today Stereogum premiered the new album’s title track. You may not be prepared for it. You may not even think it’s metal. But I think it’s goddamned awesome. It’s icy and adrift, bleak and beautiful, melancholy and memorable. But it has a harsh edge as well, it rocks in its own way, and the soaring of the vocals into a howl near the end are very cool. And is that an electrified mandolin I’m hearing, along with the synth and strings? (Answer:  Nope, it’s a banjo!)

Go HERE to listen.


I’ve written before about the Relapse reissue of the one and only album by Sweden’s God Macabre — a band who’ve frequently been on my mind ever since seeing their magnificent set at Maryland Deathfest XII last month. One of my friends who was there with me surprised the hell out of me a few days ago with a gift of the special MDF edition of the LP. And then yesterday I noticed that the digital version of The Winterlong reissue is now available on Bandcamp. If you haven’t heard it, you should. It has lost nothing in the two decades since its original release. Here it is: Continue reading »

May 282014

Just last week, Iceland’s Sólstafir absolutely floored me (and hundreds of other fans) with their performance at the 12th  edition of Maryland Deathfest. Hot on the heels of that trump, Season of Mist has just announced that the band will be releasing a new album named Ótta on August 29 in Europe and September 2 in North America.

According to the press release, “As the name suggests, Ótta will include eight songs, which titles will be unveiled later in June.” Pre-orders will start at the SoM e-shop (here) on June 10.

And that’s about all I have to say about that.  I have to go now and change my shorts.

Mar 272014

I don’t have the data at my fingertips. It’s possible that we’ve written about some other band more than we’ve written about Iceland’s Sólstafir over the years — but I’d be surprised if that were true. And so it’s a foregone conclusion that I’m posting the following announcement of the band’s first “North American” tour, even though some literary license has been taken with the term “North American”:

Icelandic rock heathens Sólstafir have announced a string of North American tour dates. The band’s first-ever North American trek starts on May 15 in Brooklyn, NY and will continue through the band’s stop at this year’s Maryland Deathfest on May 23. Support on these dates comes from JUNIUS. A full list of confirmed tour dates can be found below.

SOLSTAFIR North American tour dates
5/15 Toronto, ON @ Hard Luck
5/16 Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus Bar
5/17 Philadelphia PA @ Underground Arts
5/18 Boston, MA @ Middle East
5/19 Springfield, VA @ Empire
5/23 Baltimore, MD @ Maryland Deathfest Continue reading »

Jan 082014

I noticed a lot of new things yesterday. A few of them are collected in this post — an alliterative line-up of new videos and/or songs from Sólstafir (Iceland), Shining (Norway), and Shitfucker (Detroit), plus some welcome news from Wildernessking (South Africa).


Yesterday, I spied not one, but three new things from one of our site’s favorite bands, Iceland’s Sólstafir. The first is a new song that appears on a forthcoming 7″ split with another Icelandic band named Legend.  For this split, each of the bands has covered a song by the other. In Sólstafir’s case, the song is Legend’s “Runaway Train”, the original of which you can find here.

I was hooked from the first compulsive drumbeats and darting guitar notes. From there, Addi Tryggvason adds his gritty vocals to what becomes a dark, urgent, hard-rocking take on the original, enhanced by keyboards and an unexpected chant in the mid-section. Damned catchy. Continue reading »

Dec 122013

(Almost exactly one year ago we published Gemma Alexander’s great interview of Guðmundur Óli Pálmason, the drummer of what is today probably Iceland’s best known metal band, and a huge NCS favorite: Sólstafir. And today we present his list of favorite releases from 2013, with our thanks for participating in this year’s Listmania series.)

When the awesomely named I.S.Lander (Íslendingur) asked us Sólstafir boys to write a short best of 2013 list there was no way I could say no, even though I should have. I suck at making lists, and I suck even more at making year-end lists. I really can’t decide what’s my most favourite and what’s my second favourite, and third and so on. So the albums I’m writing about here are in alphabetical order, and this year the alphabet only contains 3 letters. Good for me. Also, in later years I have become a lazy consumer, I should be making a best of 2009 list, and the first album on my list will tell you why:

Alice in ChainsThe Devil Put Dinosaurs Here

A month or so ago I decided that maybe it was time to check out the new Alice in Chains albums, and by new I mean 2009’s Black Gives Way to Blue, and this year’s The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here. It took a few listens to get into both albums, and I must say there aren’t as many instant hits here as on Dirt, but both albums contain a great “wholeness” and are great for old fashioned isteners like me who listen to an album as a whole. Continue reading »

Dec 092013

(Guest writer Alain Mower is back with recommended releases appropriate for the season.)

As prophesied in ice and fire, winter has come and – as pointed out in Ben’s guest article ”At the Heart of Winter” – with the change of seasons into the most dark and frostbitten of them all, in conjunction with the beginning of hunting list season, we need a little extra something to help offset the fact that we can’t just hibernate this season of stillness and death behind us.

Also, while undeniably a necessary part of any tried and trve vinter, I’m going to try and leave off the classics in favor of featuring some (relatively) modern releases that are more recently bidding for the throne of winter. It’s not that Immortal, Windir, and Ulver haven’t put out the most quintessential albums of the season, it’s just that some young wolves are just getting their first real taste of fresh blood, and they deserve some mentions too.

Also, not all the releases listed here are metal, but I will argue to the death that all of them are Winter. So, without further longwinded gusto, here are ten albums guaranteed to help you meet the heart of winter head on. Continue reading »

Oct 042013

You want something new in your ears?  I mean, other than a stranger’s tongue or that bedbug that crawled in there while you were sleeping?  Well then, check out this selection of recommended new songs discovered over the last 24 hours.


I found out about this band (whose name means “Fated Throne”) thanks to a tip from my NCS comrade TheMadIsraeli. It’s the brainchild of New Hampshire guitarist Jim Gregory, but it also includes the superb Dirk Verbeuren (Soilwork, Scarve, Bent Sea) on drums, Scarve bassist Loic Colin, and Excrecor guitarist/frontman Jeff DeMarco on vocals. Solium Fatalis released their self-titled debut album just days ago, and it features eye-catching cover art by Septic Flesh frontman/bassist Seth Siro Anton.

Two songs from the album are streaming on Bandcamp. I listened to them last night and they’re really good – a dynamic offering of blackened melodic death metal built upon excellent instrumental performances, a voracious vocal turn, and a well-crafted production that gives the music a sharp, heavy sound. Seductive Eastern melodies flow through the stately but savage “Molecular Devices” and the jolting fury of “The 7th Gate”. I don’t know why I haven’t heard more about this album, but I’m definitely going after it now (it’s available on iTunes and Amazon) Continue reading »

Sep 022013

(Our roving reporter Andy Synn was fortunate enough to take in the 2013 edition of the Summer Breeze open air festival in Germany last month and has prepared a multi-part review accompanied by videos that he shot during the festival. Today we bring you Part 1 of his write-up.)

Apologies to anyone who might have been waiting for my SB review this year. The trip to Seattle took up 99% of my time since, so I didn’t really have much chance to write things up before now!

Let me tell you though, leaving your house at 1am and driving to Dinkelsbuhl (where the festival is located), arriving at around half 7 in the evening, is a LONG drive. I did the first stretch in one relatively unbroken 10 hour stint, but after that it was a case of frequent stops to rest every time I started feeling my eyes getting heavy. Urgh.


As it was, though, I made it to the festival in time to see Vader… well, some of Vader. Because one minor issue with having the opening night festivities situated in the 3rd stage tent is that you end up trying to pack an entire festival’s worth of people into a venue that, while large in itself, was definitely not designed for that purpose! Thus my Vader viewing experience became a curious mix of long-range appreciation and video-screen voyeurism. Continue reading »

Jul 302013

New videos have given me an excuse to write again about two excellent songs.


I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve posted different performances of “Fjara”. I don’t think it will ever grow old for me. And today brought me another excuse to do it again.

On July 25, Iceland’s Sólstafir performed at the Metaldays Festival in Tolmin, Slovenija. Someone with good equipment filmed the band’s performance of “Fjara” and uploaded it to YouTube. It looks like a beautiful setting for a festival (you get a glimpse of it at the end of the clip), though it’s a little strange to see the band performing in blinding sunlight. But apart from some overexposure brought about by all that daylight, the video looks and sounds very good.

And the song remains amazing, and the band remain the Kings of Cool, and I remain very stoked about the idea of seeing them live at Maryland Deathfest next May, where surely they will play this song. Watch and listen next . . . Continue reading »