Sólstafir has long challenged our understanding of heavy music. While much of their history may be more clearly categorized as black metal, the Icelandic group has recently wandered into more of a more melodic and progressive style. And it’s brilliant. Whether you consider it metal or not, their latest work, 2014’s Ótta, was one of the best albums to drop that year. But as impressive as their music has always been, it was actually the visual aspect of their sound that really captivated me originally, when I discovered this band through their video for “Fjara”. Taking full advantage of the landscapes of their home country, Sólstafir deserves to be recognized for the incredible music videos that accompany their music. The latest video for “Miðaftann” only furthers that point.
It has been busy couple of years for Sólstafir. Not only did they release one of the more popular albums of last year, but 2014 also saw a run of shows in the United States that included an appearance at Maryland Deathfest. It was a year that really helped them gain recognition across the globe. Focusing on continued live performances and working with a new drummer (a decision I still question), 2015 was no less active. And now that we’ve reached they end of the year, they have successfully capped off the calendar with the latest video for “Miðaftann”, the second video off the aforementioned record.
Ótta is not a heavy record. And this track might be the lightest on the album. It is less than six minutes of beautiful piano-driven melodies that delicately sway alongside Aðalbjörn Tryggvason’s vocals. As such, making a video for this particular track seemed to be an interesting choice, especially when the first video off this album was for “Lágnætti”, the opening track from Ótta, which simply does more. Yet, the visual aspect of this song completely captures the pain and somber elements that define it, delivering a stunning tale of hopelessness.
Directed by Harri Haataja and Vesa Ranta and shot entirely in black and white, the scene opens to a lost wanderer washed ashore on an Icelandic coast. We follow this man as he struggles onward, in search of some form of hope. We don’t where he comes from or where he is going. We only understand his current state. In fact, the only item he carries with him is a large white flag, a clear symbol of his surrender to life. Each move is in slow motion, with the most jarring being one in which this man falls to his knees and lets out a cry that falls silent on us as audience. The emotions that accompany this man, through this song, are very clearly projected onto us as viewers. Eventually, he stumbles on a small building or shack, which is where the scene fades out, perhaps offering a glimmer of hope at the end of this darkness.
“Ein Bier… bitte.”