From time to time you might come across an album that needs your complete and undivided attention; SOLEFALD’s “The Linear Scaffold” requires you to sit, quietly in your chair and LISTEN, lest you miss something. This is the case with every piece of Avantgarde that is worth its salt and is one of the main qualifiers for the genre; it is a genre that can range over and through every musical spectrum imaginable, jazz, classical, pop, metal, instrumental, etc, etc.
But you have to do it well though, and SOLEFALD has been doing it very well for over a decade and “The Linear Scaffold” was their full-length debut album. I admit I was surprised when I saw that this was in fact their debut, not only because I believed there were one or two albums before this one, but I was blinded by the thought that most Black Metal debut albums from the 90’s sound like it was ripped off cassette. On the contrary though, the production and overall quality of the album is clear and very high.
So, what about the music? BORKNAGAR – “The Olden Domain”, DIMMU BORGIR – “Enthrone Darkness Triumphant”, EMPEROR – “Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk” and ARCTURUS – “La Masquerade Infernale” were all released in 1997 and the bands (and albums) read like a who’s who list of Black Metal. Those who know these albums should get a rough idea of what to expect of “The Linear Scaffold” if they take into account what these bands were doing musically in those days; to the rest I suggest that the above mentioned albums should be noted on a shopping list and a trip to the store be planned immediately. “The Linear Scaffold” is a conglomerate of the epic melodic-ness of BORKNAGAR and some DIMMU BORGIR symphonic-ness, all while retaining the bleak-ness of EMPEROR, only to be messed around by the free-flowing-ness of ARCTURUS song writing. The duo of Cornelius and Lazare are both responsible for the vocal duties and the scream of one is countered by the clear voice of the other; this contrast is similar to the variation in the music, which ranges from manic to calm and soothing.
It seems senseless to try to describe in detail what to expect from the album, but anything from whispering vocals with soft guitars and rhythmic drums, to clear singing, high pitched screams, squeaks and epic riffs will cross your path. I never realised how good this album really was - I know both the “Icelandic Odyssey”'s by heart, and “In Harmonia Universali” and “Pills Against The Ageless Ills” quite well too (I know I’m missing “Neonism” though), but the last couple of weeks opened my eyes (and ears) to an album that should be considered a Classic – an obstructing piece of Avantgarde Black art.
(Online July 1, 2008)