Tilberi, the three song EP by Iceland’s Solstafir, starts out slowly, almost melancholic, and highly melodic. As with it’s contemporaries in the sonic land of atmospheric post-metal, Tilberi‘s tracks quickly evolve into something deeper, compelling one to listen further.
Tilberi‘s mix is raw, retaining an almost ‘demo’ quality muddiness in the low end. The bass guitar and some vocals sound deliberately more buried in the mix, compared to the relative crispness of the guitar and snare drum work. What’s interesting about the mix is that it’s full stereo – all the muddiness is deliberate, forcing a listener to pay closer attention to hear subtleties built into the riffs and melodic structures.
Music not sung in English, like on Tilberi, is interesting to an ear entrained to English phrasing and prosody. Instrumentation is fuller on the gentler “Tilberi”, with the incorporation of some piano synth work. “Til Vallhal” is much angrier black metal with atmospheric elements, and a killer stinger for an ending note.
“Til Vallhal” has a blastbeat intro which reaches into the pervasive, deep influence from underground black metal bands. Utilizing the post-metal demo quality mix, Solstafir courts listeners who want their reflective black metal served raw and bleeding. Tempo changes are varied, but the song isn’t excessively syncopated. Fans don’t have to work too hard to enjoy the riffs presented. The vocals have an almost punk air, screaming with honest, heartfelt intent.
The longest track, the lilting and wispy album highlight, closer “Otta Elevator Mix”, is as atmosoheric, ethereal, and evocative as you’d expect from a tune with that title. Hints of strings, delay, and synth gradually and gently bring in guitar, vocals, muted bass drum (which almost sounds like the dull thud of a war drum) and hints of bsss guitar. This song would benefit from a clearer mix in the low end, but the fog and clouds from the land of fire and ice add a texture and layer hard to describe and easy to appreciate. “Otta Elevator Mix”, with it’s hauntingly dark, precious melody, and gentle presentation, is not intended for fans who want their metal loud, fast, and angry.
Blending an ambient, rueful timbre with the harshness of metal’s underground, Solstafir transcends without too much transformation. Listeners aren’t alienated with too much unfamiliarity: the sonic waters are murky, but not uncharted. Grand without becoming too grandiose, and intense without burning a hole right through a listener’s consciousness, Solstafir’s pinnacles remain the emotion wrapped into the vocals and over-arching melodies.
Tilberi has apparently been self-released, on streaming music platform Bandcamp, to little flourish and hulabaloo. This could possibly stem from Solstafir’s legal troubles and member departures. A quick and invigorating listen, the EP is recommended for fans of emotive, atmospheric metal, regardless of genre, and for fans seeking to enjoy vocal music sung in a language not their own.
Track listing with Run times:
Tilberi — 06:31
Til Vallhal — 04:30
Otta Elevator Mix — 08:56