VENUE: The Zoo, Brisbane, Australia : August 31st
When word was out a few months back regarding the return of Enslaved to Australian shores, the local metal collective was beside themselves with joy! It had been five years since the legendary Norwegian Metal horde had last graced us with their presence. The whole visitation was amplified five-fold when it was announced that Icelandic atmospheric metallers Solstafir was to accompany Enslaved down the Aussie East Coast of their 4 date trip (after beginning in Perth). Personally, I was out of my tree at the prospect of witnessing this brilliant double bill. Needless to say, the Scandinavian’s delivered!
Patiently lining up with the rest of what was a clearly a veteran old school metal crowd, there was a calm air of anticipation, almost as if we were about to visit old friends. Coming back to Brisbane’s The Zoo Venue is always comforting for me and although I wouldn’t say the joint was packed, Enslaved and Solstafir enjoyed a dedicated crowd who knew their shit.
As much as I was there to witness the mighty Enslaved, I have got to say that the opportunity to see Solstafir live was just as exciting for me. So as the lights dimmed and the opening acoustic moments of ‘Nattfari’ from ‘05’s Masterpiece of Bitterness album hit the crowd, I knew we were in for something special. The segue into the awesome ‘Blaffjall’ (from last years Bedreyminn) was breathtaking with the dark foreboding atmosphere captured ever so eloquently through the emotive vocal strains of front man Addi Tryggvason. In between his agonised delivery he simply murders his axe with driving riff work and a gut wrenching slide guitar attack, bleeding every last drop from his amplifers – the perfect opener. His side-kicks are no less impressive – bassist Svabbi Austmann with shades/hat and iconic pigtails loads up a killer bottom end matching his percussive brother Grimsi Hallgrímsson blow for blow. Then there’s the unassuming, almost ghost-like Pjúddi Sæþórsson who’s sublime guitar lead lines allow this bands haunting atmosphere to be captured in the most authentic way. The band is flawless! Time limits suck for the support band and 5 tracks is far too short a set for this group – but ‘Otta’ and ‘Fajara’ are given their due with the band unleashing the stunning 12 minute epic of ‘Goddess of the Ages’ as their final act – Mesmerising and utterly absorbing to its final note! Such a pleasure to witness this experience – Do not miss this band next time they come.
Enter Enslaved. This band is just legendary. Scandinavian Metal Lords. You would think that after some 27 years kicking around their unique brand of progressive black/Viking metal they’d be a little jaded. This couldn’t be further from the truth as they leap headlong into the brutal blasting opener of ‘Roots of the Mountain’. Frontman Grutle Kjellson is man possessed on his bass and vocally on point, not to mention his positive engagement with the audience – he had the crowd hanging on his every word. Then you have the dynamic duo of Ivar Bjornson and Ice Dale on guitar. Can they play! Ivar on the root riff and Ice with the full on rock/metal stances and attitude. Just a brilliant combination. I must mention the performance of their new drummer Iver Sandøy who replaced ling time Cato Bekkevold this year – Iver ruled his kit putting forth a supreme job through classics such as ‘Isöders dronning, Isa, Fenris, Jotunblod’ and the mighty ‘All Father Odinn’ which ended the night. The band was truly appreciative of the reception they were given by the Brisbane crowd and made the effort to return the front of the stage after the encore to shake hands, high five and form an even stronger bond with their fans. Viewing their social media post on this trip, it is clear they have thoroughly enjoyed their time in Australia and can’t wait to return again. I’ve a feeling they’ve got much more to come.
Cheers to John Howarth from Nuclear Blast for the Press Pass and opportunity!
Apologies for the lack of quality shots attached here – poor lighting, a camera that wasn’t quite up to the mark and a lack of photographers pit meant I had to battle for much of anything.
Solstafir Track List:
Goddess Of The Ages
Enslaved Track List
Roots of the Mountain