By Jonathan Smith
Iceland’s Sólstafir have reemerged this year with Köld, a strong follow-up to 2005’s Master of Bitterness. It’s an eclectic album to say the least, bringing to mind everything from shoegazer black metal to ambient goth with a little alternative rock thrown in for good measure. Opening with the energetic instrumental “78 Days In The Desert,” Sólstafir don’t play all their cards right away. Köld slowly reveals itself to the listener, and the lengthy songs often begin with one sound and end with another. The lone exception, seemingly ready-made single “Love Is The Devil (And I Am In Love),” is a radio-length rock guitar driven song that begs to be listened to on the highway this summer. Over such a broad mixture of sounds, Aðalbjörn Tryggvason’s emotionally-charged vocals don’t always sound like they fit with the music he’s accompanying. At the same time he brings a refreshingly clean and melodic take when singing along with some of the harsher moments on the album, and for the most part it all works very well. Despite some tracks being obvious stand-outs over others, Köld is a fantastic release that deserves multiple thorough listens.