Sólstafir’s music doesn’t feel like it’s been written so much as carved out of the landscape by blizzards and howling gales. The Reykjavík quartet’s seventh album is no exception. It’s as elemental and unknowable as modern metal gets.
In that respect, it’s business as usual. But in others, it’s a step on from anything they’ve done before. Sólstafir have never been short of scope and ambition, but Endless Twilight Of Codependent Love – how's that for a title, their first English-language one in 15 years? – is the sound of a band subtly but distinctly changing things up.
Endless… is a hefty record, its nine songs unfolding over more than an hour. The opening one-two of Akerri and Drysill clock in at almost 20 minutes between them. The former is a shapeshifting prog metal epic that’s as disorientating as being lost in a snowstorm. The latter is a slab of glacial Nordic goth whose spiralling guitars are underpinned by glassy, post-punk synths (Sólstafir are masters of making not very much sound like a hell of a lot). Both are equally powerful, in completely different ways.
That streak of restlessness runs through Endless…. Where past albums have each had a recognisable but distinct topography, this time they’ve thrown all the pieces in the air and let the wind carry them wherever. Til Moldar is a warm ballad that billows like blood in a spring pool, while the controlled savagery of Dionysus is an explicit callback to their black metal roots. Most startling of all is Or, which starts off as a lounge-jazz workout before someone opens the door and a force-ten gale starts blowing in..
The fixed point throughout is frontman Aðalbjörn ‘Addi’ Tryggvason, whose wounded-animal moan offers something to cling on. The fact he’s mostly singing in Icelandic only deepens the enigma; ironically, the English-language Her Fall From Grace is the least intriguing thing here lyrically. But even when they’re stripping away a layer of mystery, Sólstafir sound like no one else out there. and Endless Twilight Of Codependent Love is an album to get lost in, in every sense.