Icelandic metal band Sólstafir have attracted a lot of attention in the last few years due to their metamorphosis from a harsh black metal band in the mid-nineties, to their current eerie combination of noise and shoegaze rock. Many have taken to describing them as the “Sigur Rós of heavy metal”. Their sound definitely echoes the scenery of their homeland, a delicate balance between the bleak and beautiful.
Much of the attention comes from their 2011 album “Svartir Sandar”, meaning “black sands” in reference to Iceland’s famous beaches. On a brief visit to Iceland I ventured in to a big-box bookstore in Reykjavik, and I was a bit surprised to find the album displayed prominently at the checkout counter. Between that and the nature of the some of the imagery evoked on the album, I made an assumption that they’d been readily embraced at home.
But when I sat down with vocalist/guitarist Aðalbjörn Tryggvason and drummer Guðmundur Óli Pálmason on the eve of their first North American tour, I found out that like many of their contemporaries, Sólstafir’s increased profile is a result of attention from the rest of the world (Oh, and I learned a pretty amazing Icelandic word).
Sólstafir’s new album “Ótta” will be released in North America on September 2nd.