30.11.2023 Tavastia Klubi, Helsinki, Finland
Icelandic Sólstafir experienced quite an evolution over the years. Seeing them around 2015, I would compare them to Fields of the Nephilim, both in looks and in sound. Even earlier, according to Wiki, they were compared even to Sigur Rós. They are quite prominent in the European metal scene and usually can be seen touring with names such as Insomnium and Amorphis.
Timechild from Denmark was the first opening act of the evening. Described as heavy and progressive, they played a short but quite melodic sets — likely, their “best of”, of which ‘Call of the Petrichor’ was my favorite.
The second warm-up was the local doom metal formation The Abbey, fronted by Natalia Koskinen (Shape of Despair) and with Janne Markus (Posionblack, Man-Eating Tree) on guitars and Vesa Ranta (Man-Eating Tree, Sentenced) on drums, among the others. As you may expect from the famous past projects of the members, The Abbey has rather “Finnish” sounding melodic metal with lyrics based on occult inspirations.
Visually, the shows of the warm-up acts were focused on the music and did not invest much in action on stage. Besides, the light was clearly not the concern of, well, anyone, and photographers on set were to make do with the common flood light and the smoke. Both acts can be characterized as professional and delivering reliable compositions, though both are rather niche.
Progressive, slow sound and mediocre lights, however, were wiped away as soon as Sólstafir took the stage. While eight years ago I definitely captured the Fileds of the Nephilim influence, today it is a bit different, a more mature band with its distinct, personal sound. The distinct sound that somehow pumps you with energy and impression, the trademark looks of the artists, and the close-to-people action by Aðalbjörn Tryggvason were on the top level. I won’t see much of Sigur Rós influence anymore in the music, but I can tell that the couple of electric lamps lighting up the vegvísir-based logos on the backdrop were bearing some resemblance to the stage set of Jounsi and co. The crowd was pretty familiar with the band and the songs, as some chose to videotape the entire gig and others, being drunk, fought for the touch of the vocalist for the entire duration (he was surprisingly good at avoiding the overeager people though, while interacting with regular fans). The light was, in turn, the best I have seen in Tavastia so far. Again, unlike the short sets of the warming bands, Sólstafir’s set was suitably long. The band does not mind the omnipresent smartphones, and the front-row fans’ devices even ended up in Aðalbjörn’s hands to take some selfies with the owners.
Upon visiting the show, I can definitely recommend Sólstafir for a great experience.