Solstafir, Dialects, Antimatter: Arts Club, Liverpool

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Iceland’s Solstafir take a bow at the Arts Club

With an epic set of doom-laden and ambient post-rock, Getintothis’ Zach Jones lauds Iceland’s Solstafir as pioneers of heavy music – all while pondering the virtues of remaining champions of the underground.

Tonight Liverpool is treated to rare show by Icelandic outfit Solstafir. Iceland’s incredible music scene has never been questioned, but rarely do they cross they the Atlantic to the equally Viking seaside city of Liverpool. As a band Solstafir are incredible. Having released five full length records on top of various demos and EPs the band transversed the atmospheric black metal of their Scandinavian allies in Norway and Sweden before sailing quickly into the realms of post-metal, doom, but especially ambient and atmospheric music.

Much like fellow Icelandic outfit Sigur Ros, Solstafir have plenty of pieces within their discography that verge on total silence or accapella. Contrasting this with bursts of blurring heaviness and raw energy the band are pioneers within the realm of heavy music.

With such an epic bill to contend with, first up are Liverpool band Antimatter. Returning from an extensive tour of Europe and the UK, the group offer some solid material to the gathering crowd. They have a prowess to them, a tight sound and perform as a well-oiled machine. Sound-wise they’re hardly innovators, but more trying to re-invent the wheel.

Up next however are Scottish four piece Dialects who are nothing short of outstanding and the stand out act of the evening. Absolute crushing post-rock heaviness seeps out of the sound system and well and truly gets some heads banging. They’re on the heavier side of the spectrum for instrumental music, more Like Herod Mogwai than I’m Jim Morrison…. The band is diverse, intelligent and challenging. Mathy finger-tapped riffs crescendo over a drummer who, despite making like he will die of exhaustion after the show, leads for a band with the aggression of Converge and reservation of Mono.

Solstafir did not come all this way for nothing though. They take to the stage in impressive form. A band absolutely dedicated to the show they burn through the first song like it’s going to be their last ever, and as the set goes on they show the total devotion they have to their art. With the well-honed craft that comes from a band now five albums in, they play like masters at work. Utterly without fault in their performance, we’re treated to raging roars and quiet whispers.

It is a shame that Solstafir remain a gem of the underground while so much mediocrity gains crowds twice the size. But perhaps that is precisely it: is it better to be liked by many or adored by a few?

Pictures by Getintothis’ Martin Saleh.

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