If you have had any interest in the metal underground over the last 20 years or so then there’s a fair chance that you will have encountered the dark, bewildering and occasionally baffling art of Solefald.
World Metal; Kosmopolis Sud (Indie), the latest album from the Scandanavian provocateurs, is as wilfully perverse as it is artistically diverse and challenging. World Metal is an all too simplistic title for a record that covers and extraordinary palette of aural colours from thrash metal that would not go amiss on a Sepultura album through Al Jourgensen inspired electronica and nursery rhyme folk.
It really is all here. And more.
In some camps, this is supposedly representative of some kind of avant-garde genius. Not in this camp, I’m afraid. I bow to no man in my admiration for bands and artists who push the artistic and creative envelope but there is a significant difference between good and bad art and I’m afraid that World Metal is bad art. Lots of people are going to tell you that its density is somehow representative of a deeper intellectual exercise and that the impenetrability of the music is somehow evidence of artistic freedom- artists doing what they please etc etc. This is poppycock of the highest order.
The entire essence of art is that it connects: on an emotional, spiritual and human level. Wilful self-indulgence is not evidence of a higher artistic intelligence; it is evidence of hubris. And there is much hubris on World Metal. I think we need to call this out now: being diverse and idiosyncratic isn’t, in and of itself, good enough. There isn’t anything particularly big or clever at throwing everything including the musical kitchen sink at things. By contrast, it is self-regarding and, ultimately, very boring.
I’m reminded of the now infamous conversation between Harrison Ford who complained about the quality of the script for Star Wars, and George Lucas: “George, you can type this shit but you can’t say it” said the laconic actor to his director. This was, of course, the same Star Wars that went on to change movie history and get an Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay.
My point? I might have got this one wrong. I don’t think I have though. Clearly for some, World Metal will be seen as quite the masterpiece, full of ideas and inspiration. Not for me though. I’ll defend to my dying breath Solefald’s right to make whatever record they want, just don’t expect me to listen to it.