KEXP at Iceland Airwaves, Day 3: Sólstafir

photos by Jim Bennett

Any American metalheads who don’t recognize these viking metal gods are seriously missing something. Sólstafir have been shredding since 1994, and not once in their nearly two-decade career have they let up. They take their name from the Icelandic word for crepuscular rays – in layman’s terms, the rays of the sun that shine through clouds or fog that appear to come from a single spot in the sky. It’s an appropriate name, too, because every new Sólstafir album is like a sun ray burning directly into your head and melting your face off. Their newest record, 2011’s Svartir Sandar, is still ridiculously fun. The 11 minute intro track “Ljós í Stormi” is a dramatic, near-mythological build of energy. But along with all of the thrashing and head-banging, Sólstafir bring killer arrangement and texture to the table that only Iceland’s best have to offer.

They began with the incredible 10+ minute epic “Ljós í Stormi,” or “Light in the Storm.” The song began as slow and atmospheric, building up to super fast metal and very loud vocals, his screams echoing the fierce storm visible through a window just a few feet away. Their second song, “Fjara,” was more cinematic and post-rock based, with hints of heavy metal in the moments when things sped up, reminding listener’s of Sigur Rós’ heavier moments. Their third and final song, “Goddess of the Ages,” really brought out the headbangers in the crowd. Moving from fast paced guitars to more ambient interludes, this was an amazing face-melting way to close out the set.

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