Originally written by Ryan Plunkett
The Norwegian scene has spawned some of the most extreme bands, and also some of the strangest. Solefald happens to fall under the latter.
Featuring members of Borknagar, this experimental, progressive metal band had me in for a little treat. Off the bat, I was unsure what to expect from In Harmonia Universali. I had seen the band described as “bizarre,” and honestly, I wouldn’t say it’s that far off. The album contains four different languages: English, Norwegian, German, and French. Hell, they even use a saxophone in a few songs, and they use it well.
Musically, this is all over the map. It’s mostly progressive, but there are some guitar riffs with some crunch, most notably in the songs “Mont Blanc Providence Cow” and “Epictetus & Irreversibility”. The rest of the guitar work is driven by flowing rhythms and melodies that are sure to catch your ear and make you stop to take them all in.
The keyboards do a wonderful job of creating a swirling atmosphere and are never afraid to assert themselves to the forefront. The piano verses are amazing as well. They give you just enough of a taste to leave you asking for more. I can hardly forget about the saxophone, either. Its use never feels forced, as if Solefald was aiming to throw an odd instrument into their brand of metal, but fits perfectly with the music around it.
The vokills were the one department that at first threw me for a loop. The thing that instantly grabbed me was the crafty clean vokills – beautiful, yet haunting, in a sense. The vokill harmonies also made a definitive impression, and I found myself eagerly waiting to hear them again. The harsh black metal growls, although not used often, come across as powerful and add to that dark edge of the album. It’s the main vokills used for the verses that threw me off. The best way I can think to describe them is that it sounds as if the singer has a frog in his throat. I hated them at first and thought they ruined the album. But I can honestly say that after as many listens as I’ve taken in the last couple days, they have grown on me like a fungus, and I wouldn’t have them any other way.
With perfect production added to the package, In Harmonia Universali leaves you with an impression that this music was created by two men going above and beyond the call of duty. The vokills sound perfect, and the keyboards, drums, guitars and everything else mix perfectly together. I was really debating giving this album the coveted “666” score, but I can’t see giving it any less than that. After the first two or three initial listens, this album had me absolutely mesmerized to the point where I listened to it four full times yesterday alone.
I know for a fact that the intricately layered display at hand will only continue to draw me in further and further through the enigmatic universe Solefald has conjured up. If you are a fan of progressive metal, then you shouldn’t hesitate to pick this one up. If you’re an open-minded listener, then do yourself a favor and check these guys out, you’ll be in for quite a surprise.