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Rendezvous Point: Solar Storm

From the frozen north they came, bearing riffs…

This is the mightily impressive debut from the Norwegian quintet, formed in 2010 by a group of students from the University of Agder, but the line-up includes players already established in the rock and metal worlds.

Drummer Baard Kolstad plays with the excellent Leprous and has beaten out brutal black metal with both Borknagar and ICS Vortex (the latter a gig he has shared with guitarist Petter Hallaråker). Despite that black metal pedigree, Kolstad shows a strong sense of dynamics and musicality in his playing even when he really cuts loose, as in Mirrors. However the real discovery in the group is vocalist Geirmund Hansen, who has an impressive, almost operatic range used to full effect on the sweepingly grand Wasteland. There’s a rather misjudged attempt to throw some nu-metal style vocals into The Conclusion Part 1, but happily that flirtation proves to be a passing fancy. The Hunger is the album’s heaviest track, touching on the industrial hammering of Nine Inch Nails, but musically there is more common ground with the proggier side of Opeth, Tool and Devin Townsend. This Solar Storm may well herald the birth of a new prog powerhouse.