Sólstafir Svartir Sandar

Since 1994, Iceland's Sólstafir have been making post-rock that leans towards the heavy side. Their fourth album, Svartir Sandar, is a brooding double-disc release. The album's first half, "Andvari," is a contemplative, melodic collection of six long tracks. There's a sense of indie-rock influence, and the likes of …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead and Godspeed You! Black Emperor come to mind. While these are very different bands, Sólstafir have managed to capture the guitar-driven rock and oneiric grandiosity each represent. This ambitious sound characterizes all of "Andvari," while the album's second half, "Gola," moves into more standard, but no less impressive, rock territory. These tracks represent Svartir Sandar's more explosive, fast and agile side. While radio-friendlier, these numbers also find more of a groove, embracing a different kind of influence, building a light-hearted, jamming quality into each track. Both halves of Svartir Sandar show Sólstafir's versatility as songwriters. While most of the post-rock landscape can often be melancholic in delivery, Sólstafir are clearly having a good time with the genre. (Season of Mist)