• Sarah’s Top Releases of August 2014

  • Sólstafir – Ótta

Recommended tracks: Lágnætti, Nón

Some bands tend to stick to a specific style or genre of music, deviating very little over the years and end up forming a sort of iconic sound for their band whose predictable modus operandi is of comfort to die hard fans. Solstafir is definitely not one of those bands, however despite their unremitting musical evolution from album to album, their art has a graceful and blurred progression that makes every single new album they put out a delightfully memorable and captivating listen.

Ótta, Solstafir’s fifth studio album release, pulls you along on a transcendental journey that flows according to ancient Icelandic forms of time keeping, with each track embodying a specific time of the day. As you listen to Ótta each song bleeds into the next with impeccable linear progressiveness, building up to a peak at the middle of the album and softly falling back full circle. Aðalbjörn Tryggvason’s vocals cling so perfectly to the dark, icy atmosphere of each track that together it washes over you in all its subtle eccentricity, leaving you addicted and craving for more.

Instrumentally, the album is very subdued but ingeniously so. Ótta showcases the beauty of the piano, violin and banjo on several of its tracks and is almost always accompanied with soft, fuzzy distorted guitars that all together orchestrate into this burningly beautiful and layered masterpiece of timeless perfection, nothing was sloppily done here, every second of this album was carefully considered. Sólstafir have created something truly unparalleled to anything I’ve ever heard before and Ótta is easily one of my favorite albums of all time.

“Ótta” is part of the best that the metal heritage has to offer. It is a raw, deep, burning lullaby. It is a howl.” –Against Magazine

For fans of: Primordial, Atmospheric post rock.

  • Black Folly – Etat d’âme

Recommended tracks: Cendres( Ôde Aux Arbres), Sous le Poid Écrasant De La Réalité

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Etat d’âme, is the mesmerizing brainchild of Marwan Antonios, the sole mastermind behind Black Folly. It’s almost impossible to wrap my head around the fact that one person has the creative capacity to craft the level of emotion and depth that this seven track EP instigates, let alone the diverse technical skill it demands.

I do not have enough good things to say about this band, other than obvious insane talent, as previously mentioned in an interview Antonios explicitly states that he composes for self fulfillment rather than fame, and you can hear that raw passion and involvement in his music. I can only hope Black Folly will keep providing us sincere and satisfying art like this.

I strongly suggest you sit back, relax and let Etat d’âme fill the silence around you with powerfully dark and mysterious ambient vibes, revel in the homespun talent that is Black folly!

For fans of: Ambient/atmospheric metal

  • Patrick Saad’s Top Release of August 2014

  • Opeth – Pale Communion

Recommended: Cusp Of Eternity, Voice of Treason

Opeth’s attempt to take their new found Heritage sound forward is mostly a disappointment. Blasphemy right? The expectations were high for “Pale Communion”, especially after Steven Wilson noted that Micheal wrote his best song ever (it’s “Faith in Others”). Even with this album’s bad / average tracks (Goblin and River stand out as a no no), the album does present at least 4 memorable tracks, enough for it to top my monthly releases list.

For fans of: Opeth slowly finding their sound but just not there yet.