Solefald is a Norwegian avant-garde metal/post-black metal band that was formed by members Lars Are "Lazare" Nedland and Cornelius Jakhelln in August 1995, with Lars singing and playing keyboard/piano and drums, and Cornelius singing and playing guitar and bass. The meaning of the band's name is best explained in an interview from Century Media Records website. Lazare states "Solefald is an old norse word for sunset. We "stole" it from a painting by the Norwegian artist Theodor Kittelsen. His two paintings "Soleglad" and "Solefald" portrays the cycle of being, and we found it to be a very fitting idea for our band." Cornelius also states ""Solefald" means literally "the fall of the sun", or just "sunset"; the way we spell it is Danish, from the 19th century."SOLEFALD GENRES
Their first official rehearsal together was in 1995 with the song "When The Moon Is On The Wave." They released their first, 5 song demo, entitled Jernlov (translated to Iron Law in English), in 1996. Jernlov was the band's most traditional black metal release, but it was already quite evident that the band had an experimental edge, incorporating Lazare's choir like clean vocals and lush piano passages into the heavy and intense black metal formula. They were a rare breed of band, that was able to successfully fuse two opposing feelings of music, beauty and ambiance and intensity and rage. They were one of the first bands in the black metal world to incorporate bizarre new elements into the style, including a bag pipe passage in one song.
The band was signed by the record label, Avantgarde Music from Milan (Italy), in 1996. In July 1997, the band released a follow up to their demo. This first full-length release was called, The Linear Scaffold. The album was an expansion of the style on the demo. The album had a better recording quality, and contained 8 songs, two of which had previously been on the demo, but were now re-written and re-recorded. The songs were a rollercoaster of emotions and sounds, ranging from rage and desperation to calm and atmospheric music. The band incorporated strange and nearly taboo techniques in the black metal scene of the time as well, using hand claps along with choruses in the song "Philosophical Revolt", jazzy clean guitar passages, and intense shrieks over lush and peaceful piano pieces. The album also featured vocals in English and Norwegian including one song which was simply a lush, ambient keyboard melody played behind Cornelius' Norwegian recital of a poem he wrote ("Tequila Sunrise"). When this album was released, the band coined the term "Red Music With Black Edges" to define themselves.
In 1998 the band began to adventure out of the studio and onto their first and only tour. The band toured Europe supporting symphonic metal band Haggard with gothic metal band Tristania. Being a two-piece band, they employed the use of John Erik Jacobsen (aka Didrik von PanzerDanzer) on second guitar, who recently toured with, then joined, Cornelius' new band Sturmgeist. Drummer Tarald Lie and ex-Dimmu Borgir member Jens-Petter Sandvik on the bass completed Solefald's live line-up.
Starting in 1998 the two members started branching out into other musical endeavours, with Lazare performing the drums for the album Black Shining Leather by the Norwegian black metal band Carpathian Forest. Later, in July 1999, Cornelius did guest vocals for the gothic metal band Monumentum for the songs "Black And Violet", a cover of the Italian band Death SS, and "The Colour of Compassion". These recordings were released in 2004 on the Monumentum compilation album, Metastasi.
In 1999, the band released their second full-length, entitled Neonism on September 24th. This album is considered to be the most experimental and off the wall Solefald album to date. Incorporating black metal, pop, classical music, punk, progressive metal, and trip hop, the album is a hotchpotch of styles and feelings. The many vocal capabilities of the two men came out of the woods work on this album as well. Singing in English and French, Lazare brought back his classic choir like vocals, but also introduced a new style, that is a form of aggressive, slam style hollering. Cornelius still used his inhumanly high pitched wails and shrieks and his lower black metal grunting, but he also introduced a new style for himself, a sort of monotone, fast paced, form of singing, that sounds like a robotic rap. The lyrics were extremely unconventional for metal in general and black metal especially (since traditional black metal lyrics are more relevant to the 13th century than the 20th), dealing with socio-political issues and pop culture criticism in songs like "Backpacka Baba" and "CK II Chanel no. 6". The album was hailed as a classic by many, but some criticized it for being too adventurous. The band even received a death threat from the USA from someone that considered the album an abomination to black metal. Others knocked it for its thin recording quality. The band stated that they used this quality because of the multi-layered song structures demanding a thinner sound to allow the many facets of the music to shine through. The album's recording was also plagued with problems, including a mixing board that literally started burning. The band coined the term "Radical Designer Rock 'n' Roll", for this release.
Following this album, the Solefald camp grew quiet for a little while. Lazare joined, progressive/folk/black band Borknagar as keyboard player. In 2000, Borknagar released their first release with Lazare playing with them, Quintessence.
In 2001, Solefald came together to release their third full-length. The new album, entitled Pills Against The Ageless Ills, was a concept album based on a fictitious tale written by Cornelius. It tells the story of two brothers, Pornographer Cain and Philosopher Fuck, and the days before their deaths. Cain, a pornography director, is found guilty of the murder of Kurt Cobain. Meanwhile, Fuck is exiled from the United States and dies in a hospital in Paris. Both brothers represent the similarities and differences between desire and remorse in human nature. Musically, Pills is much more straightforward than Neonism. The album is much more guitar heavy, relying on heavy riffs and angular, colorful guitar playing, with the keys acting as an accent and background instrument much of the time. Whereas Neonism consisted of songs that would each have a variety of styles and genres, Pills has a variety of different style songs, each focusing individually on a certain style. The song "Hyperhuman" opens the album with a blazing black metal assault, reminiscent of the opening song of The Linear Scaffold, "Jernlov". The song "Pornographer Cain" has much more of a heavy, hard rock feel to it, until it breaks into a speedy techno beat. The album continues along with various style shifts, ranging from black metal played in Solefald's particular style ("Charge Of Total Affect", "Hate Yourself"), to the rap style punk rock songs similar to ones found on Neonism ("The U.S.A. Don't Exist"). Still holding to Solefald's signature though, there are signs of random experimentation, including a drum and bass breakdown in "The U.S.A. Don't Exist", a grungy/Black Sabbath style guitar outro in "Fuck Talks, and a Surf Rock/1960's style progressive rock bridge in "Charge Of Total Affect". Vocally, the band had made yet another advance. Maintaining Lazare's classic style and getting rid of his slam style singing, and keeping Cornelius' lower black metal grunting, we saw the addition of a less high pitched black metal shriek from Cornelius, as well as Cornelius' most signature style of singing to date. This new vocal style is a throaty, brooding, sinister sounding form of vocals, similar to some gothic rock bands. This album, released on September 19th, 2001, was Solefald's first album released through the German record label Century Media.
The next Solefald endeavour came in 2003 with the full-length album In Harmonia Universali released on March 24th, 2003. This album was by far the most epic, sprawling Solefald album so far. The album contained 10 songs, with each song's lyrics devoted to various artists, philosophers, and deities. The lyrics are also sung in four languages on this album, English, Norwegian, French, and German. The incorporation of an authentic grand piano, a male choir, authentic Spanish classical acoustic guitar, violin, and saxophone. The music was extremely layered, consisting of composite riffs and angular, colorful leads from the guitars, swirling and beautiful hammond keyboard sections, and powerful and tight drumming. Every song is an epic piece of art on this album. Vocally, Lazare is more layered and choral sounding than ever before. His range has expanded and his voice is lush and beautiful. Cornelius sings solely with a deep, throaty, rough vocal style, similar to the style introduced on Pills, but more extreme and varied than on that album. His throat style ranges from brooding and melodic ("Mont Blanc Providence Crow"), to sinister ("Sonnenuntergang Im Weltraum"), to totally extreme and evil ("Epictetus & Irreversibility"). This was their last album released on Century Media.
In 2003 Lazare continued expanding his involvement in other bands with his inclusion into the viking/folk/black band Ásmegin. His distinct clean singing adds a fantastic dimension to the band. In 2004 he joined the avant garde metal band Age Of Silence as singer and main lyricist, which includes members such as Andy Winter from the band Winds, and Hellhammer from such bands as Arcturus, Mayhem, Winds, and many many more. In early 2005, Cornelius released the first full-length album Meister Mephisto, through Season Of Mist from his solo band, Sturmgeist, an experimental black/thrash metal band with industrial overtones. Lazare contributed back-up vocals on this release, along with vocalist Fuchs of Weimar's Die Apokalyptischen Reiter.
Later in the year 2005, the band travelled to Iceland to write their next follow up. Originally planning to release one new album, the group wound up writing so much new material, they decided they would release two new albums. In a quote from the band it was stated "Solefald was experimenting when everybody was being true. Now that things are changing and that we've pushed the experiment quite far already, we wanted "Red For Fire + Black For Death" to be our attempts at being true. This will be a true Nordic Viking Metal album." This two part saga is the story written by Cornelius about Bragi, a Skald in Iceland. Bragi is the king's court poet, until he sleeps with the queen. When this is discovered, the queen lies and claims that Bragi raped her. Bragi is then forced to flee Reykjavík, because he be will killed for what he had supposedly done. The first album from this two part saga was released on October 14th, 2005, and was entitled Red For Fire: An Icelandic Odyssey Part 1. This album deals with Bragi's internal struggles with keeping control over his sanity, and his qualms with the gods as he fights to survive in the wilderness. Vocally Lazare's vocals are lush and layered as always, with an almost bard like quality to his voice. Cornelius' voice has changed drastically. The majority of the album Cornelius has a raging, wolf like approach to black metal vocal styles, ranging from hideous shrieks, to raging growls and roars. He also incorporates his throat style singing to sound agonized and brooding at many times. His vocals have never been more intense. Musically the album is far from standard viking metal. The inclusion of a violin and cello handling most of Lazare's musical arrangements rather than a synthesizer, beautiful female vocals thanks to Aggie Frost Peterson, beautiful jazzy saxophone playing, tight and ever varied drumming, and angular, cold, bright, raw, and heavy guitar playing, makes the album epic, sweeping, layered, majestic, and intense.
The follow up to Red For Fire, entitled Black For Death: An Icelandic Odyssey Part 2, is set to release through Season Of Mist in the Autumn of 2006.
Post-Black Metal, avant-garde
SOLEFALD LYRICAL THEMES
Social Issues, Stream of Consciousness, Mythology
Norway (Oslo), formed in 1995
SOLEFALD CURRENT RECORD LABEL
Season of Mist
SOLEFALD CURRENT LINE-UP
Cornelius Jakhelln - Vocals, Guitar, Bass (Sturmgeist, G.U.T. ex-Castimoniae)
Lars Nedland (Lazare) - Vocals, Synthesizers, Drums (ex-Carpathian Forest, Borknagar, Age of Silence, ex-Ásmegin)