There's a tendency in the metal press to elevate anyone classified in that nebulous, nearly-useless category of "post-black metal," as if the mere act of ditching corpse paint and hiring a violinist somehow makes one a more serious artiste. Much of the praise is warranted — after all, some of the best music out of the underground in recent years has come from one-time black metallers, as they've matured and been influenced by other forms of music, and gained the confidence and wisdom to apply those influences to their own art.But then you have a frustrating case like SOLEFALD. They keep making albums that are interesting, on an academic level, and full of the requisite, by-now-clichéd "hey, we're weird" touches (sax solos, ludicrous vocals, or strings, for example). But a lot of what they do never really sticks — it's a pile of charismatic parts, most notably Lazare's warm and evocative, if occasionally off-key, clean vocals. It just doesn't hold up as a cohesive collection of memorable songs. There's enough cool bits on "Red For Fire" to recommend it to less discriminating post-black metal fans — the opening track is a swelling dirge that aches with pathos, and even the aforementioned sax solo doesn't kill off its atmosphere. But the following track, "Survival of the Outlaw", is a disjointed, silly exercise alternating generic riffing and overwrought vocals with a flown-in "pretty part" that makes no sense. "Where Birds Have Never Flown" is even worse — it's not atmospheric, or experimental, or avant garde… it's just boring. On the plus side, "Crater of the Valkyries" is the best song on the album, the centerpiece of this Viking saga. It's got atmosphere, varied vocals, and a compelling chorus (though it's nearly drowned in obtrusive strings), and it makes a case for SOLEFALD as a strong, progressive voice in underground music. Unfortunately, most of the rest of "Red For Fire" falls far short of this song's standard, leaving the record ultimately as a nice-sounding, somewhat rote exercise, devoid of interest or meaning. Perhaps they're in too many side projects, maybe they just weren't all that spectacular to begin with, but SOLEFALD are, as of this album, still maddeningly inconsistent. "Red For Fire" will be of interest only to those who simply must be in on every post-black metal experience, or those who don't mind wading through minutes of overcooked, pretentious, and dreary pseudo-prog to get to the good stuff in the middle.
To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends). To report any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, please send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@)gmail.com with pertinent details.