Records of the Week With Jon and Ted Week #19
Each Friday, Editors Ted Nubel and Jon Rosenthal will share their picks for Records of the Week — not necessarily what's out this week, just whatever's on our mind or on our record players.
The Linear Scaffold
First off, we're back. Uh, sorry.
With all the love I've given to Weird Norwegian Black Metal, it was only a matter of time until I punished you all about Solefald. Started in 1995 by two aspirational and Very Smart teenagers, Solefald's means of dismissing the second wave as part of the looming new millennium's promises of Modernity was through pure sonic chaos. Lots of keyboards, shrieking vocals, big chords, and dynamics not really toyed with by their peers are all at play here. Though both Lars Are "Lazare" Nedland (also of Borknagar and the sorely missed Ásmegin) and Cornelius Jakhelln came from a metal background, which is more than apparent on their debut The Linear Scaffold and the demo before it (Jernlov), there is a greater progressive nature found in Solefald from their birth. It wasn't about making black metal, it was about breaking it and forming the shattered pieces into a semblance of what they wanted. Early "post-black metal" (back when it meant a reaction to black metal using a pseudo-black metal framework and not a portmanteau of post-rock and black metal, though practitioners during this era hate the term "post-black metal," anyway) was weird, startling, and moved in many directions at once, and this was no different with Solefald. Also, "Philosophical Revolt" has a very teenage-type "I like philosophy" verse which really gets to the heart of the matter:
Confucios, Lao - Tse,
Sartre & Beauvoir
A Different Game
Reviving a dead column is a little tricky, but mostly in terms of breaking down the mental walls one builds around tasks they know aren't hard, but also cannot accomplish. We brought back UMR (hooray!) so why not this one, right?
In a similar vein, Iron Claw somehow managed to claw (heh) their way back from the dead in 2011 - this is especially surprising because, as is oddly common with proto-metal/doom bands in the 1970s, they'd never really even put out an album. Officially speaking, they had broken up in 1974, after a brief career that involved highlights like Black Sabbath threatening to sue them for sounding too similar (so says the CD liner notes anyway) and numerous lineup changes. Even so, the band released a compilation record in 2009 that captured a fascinating, heavy slice of the 1970s underground music scene. Perhaps they weren't influential or the most original band, but they could definitely rock.
Not exactly the greatest circumstances for a comeback album, right? I mean, you usually need a first album to do that. Nevertheless, Ripple Music enlisted them in 2016 to do just that, and the result is A Different Game. Gone was the Sabbath-aping vintage heaviness, but in its place is a surprisingly soulful flavor of hard rock that is certainly doom-aware, but sticks to a confident individuality. So, Iron Claw went from one style of heavy music to another, and found their own identity in the process. I guess about 45 years will do that to you, huh?
Unfortunately, A Different Game is no longer streaming, probably because Ripple Music's contract has ended, I suppose. We have a few tracks on YouTube which I've dropped below, but otherwise you'd need to grab a physical copy. It's a shame, and we can only hope somebody gets this back on Bandcamp and streaming one day (hell, I'd take a YouTube bootleg), but I highly recommend checking it out if you have a chance.