Sólstafir live review – London, Islington Assembly Hall

Islington Assembly Hall gets immersed in a modern classic, live with Sólstafir

Solstafir, band, live

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From the moment they step onstage, it’s clear there’s something bewitching and otherworldly about Sólstafir. The Icelanders are performing their superb 2014 album Ótta in full – potentially risky for such recent material, but it’s a trip best experienced as a whole, the slow, menacing coaxing of Lágnaetti immediately sweeping you into their world.

The band rarely stop to address the crowd, preferring to let this odd mix of Killing Joke-style post-punk, post-rock textures and old-school heavy metal simmer before bringing to the boil, but when frontman Addi Tryggvason does so, it’s with an impressive level of honesty and a wickedly dry wit, telling the crowd how he channelled the spirit of Phil Lynott when composing the haunting piano-led Midaftanu. The extra element of a string quartet bring a power and clarity to songs that are already moving and powerful, bringing Nattmal to a swelling close that feels tangible enough to touch – a tidal wave of sound rushing over your body. Sólstafir return for a second, ‘greatest hits’ set that includes the first-ever performance of Necrologue, a beautiful, personal address from Addi about struggles with mental health, and a closing Goddess Of The Ages that sees the crowd shaken from their wide-eyed wonder into a fist-pumping throng. It’s a night that proves a stunning challenge to the senses.

Stephen Hill

Since blagging his way onto the Hammer team a decade ago, Stephen has written countless features and reviews for the magazine, usually specialising in punk, hardcore and 90s metal, and still holds out the faint hope of one day getting his beloved U2 into the pages of the mag. He also regularly spouts his opinions on the Metal Hammer Podcast.