Solstafir + Myrkur @ Heaven, London

17th November 2017
Review by Ashlinn Nash 

The Heaven nightclub in London seems like a quirky and dynamic location to have a black metal gig, fun and flamboyant the venue in contrast to the dark and abrasive tones which comes from the visceral cross-continental bands this evening.

Opening up tonight are Árstíðir [3.5/5] from Iceland, playing here tonight as a 3 piece the semi-acoustic ensemble. The band name meaning ‘Seasons’ seems to fit their musicality with their defining characteristic of being a band who are as rich in their vocal harmonies as they are melodies, as all members sing.

Photo by Hörður Hörður Sveinsson

A trio, the dual acoustic guitar and keyboard setup provided an unusually intimate curtain-raiser, with songs that reflect their name perfectly. Particular set highlights comes from the beautiful 13th-Century hymn “Heyr, Himna Smiður”, made famous by a viral video of the group (then a sextet) performing at a Wuppertal, Germany, train station, sounded simply enigmatic.

Árstíðir are a band you should check out, particularly if you are a fan of one of their past collaborators Anneke van Giersbergen, known for her work with Devin Townsend and of course the band The Gathering has worked with the band for the release “Verloren Verleden”

The band ended with a heavy heart to be leaving the stage, bow and realise that they were the calm before the storm to come.

Myrkur [4/5] is the one to watch from the evening, as she approached the stage with her striking looks that match her high pitched shriek.

Photo by Daria Endresen

As piercing as she is creative. It’s impressive to see her effortlessly switch between being a sweet siren into a wailing banshee within seconds.

She’s soaring, enthralling and has plenty of elements that make her a terrifying, powerful black metal force to be reckoned with, the audience who weren’t quite ready for her, ended up looking quite gobsmacked.

Similarly to Árstíðir she is an act which calls to observed and absorbed – let the music go all before you and let its cathartic magic charm and seduce you. with gentle harmonies which blends imagination with brutality in places.

Highlights of the set included the ominously dark drones of the sublime “Ulvinde” or the gritty aggression of “Måneblôt”. “Mareridt” which is the second studio album by Myrkur, is avaliable now.

Ending with a beautiful solo song, she closed the next round of the journey and prepared the crowd for Solstafir.

Atmospheric metal from Iceland’s Solstafir, who blend psychedelic elements into classic rock sounds, were welcomed to the stage with a great roar of cheers and get ready for a very keen crowd!

Photo by Lilja Draumland Photography

Now on their Sixth album ” Berdreyminn” they are no stranger to being an ever-growing band here in the UK, with the last venue they played being the tiny 150-capacity ‘Old Blue Last’. Tonight’s venue was around ten times larger and just as packed!

What is their formula? Creating songs which fit into many cross genres, there is something from them for everyone whether it’s the sweet songs  playing four songs from the new album which were definitely the highlights of the performance especially “Bláfjall”.

The band where full of banter discussions which was fantastic too see, that they could be as professional as they are fun, especially during embarrassing moments such as strings being broken. Sólstafir ended their set with “Goddess of the Ages” the band took a gracious bow and left the stage.

The evening was delicately cased with power, grace, emotion, presence, these musicians are absolute masters of their oeuvre, blending power and bombast with subtlety and deliverance.

Solstafir setlist:

1. Silfur-Refur
2. Ótta
3. Lágnætti
4. Ísafold
5. Köld
6. Fjara
7. Hula
8. Bláfjall
9. Goddess of the Ages

It takes great craft to deliver something with so much cinematic splendour, a real evening of dynamic changes are more so a journey of thoughts, harmonies and cathartic pleasure. Keep an eye out for all of these bands!