Carving An Icon – Viper Solfa – Album Review by Shawn Carter
I first heard Ronny Thorsen, frontman for the Norwegian gothic/symphonic black metal band, Trail of Tears was forming a new band, Viper Solfa about a year ago when I heard the first single, “Whispers And Storms” off of their debut album, Carving An Icon out March 31st. Since then I’ve been patiently waiting for more! Recently I got it. I received their debut album in my inbox last week and I couldn’t wait to feast my ears on the full-length. I was definitely not disappointed.
All the band members are from Norway, the birthplace of black metal and have all had previous band experience, making Viper Solfa a bit of a supergroup. Thorsen is joined by fellow Trail of Tears members, Bjørn Dugstad Rønnow on drums and Endre Moe on bass. On guitars, keyboards, orchestration and composing duties is Morfeus (Limbonic Art, Dimension F3H, Mayhem, etc.) and alongside Ronny Thorsen fronting the band is Miriam “Sphinx” Renvag (Ram-Zet).
The band has spent nearly a year compiling this album, working on a sound that they like to call “poison music,” and it seems to have paid off. I always like a real headbanger of a tune to start any album, I find it sets the mood for the rest of the album and with “Deranged” we certainly get that. I also got my first taste of what Miriam “Sphinx” Renvag brings to the table vocally as I have never heard any of her previous material besides the single released last February, “Whispers And Storms”. I have to admit, as a dude that doesn’t usually get into female vocals in metal, I think she sounds pretty amazing. Ronny and Miriam’s vocals work perfectly together, they create a really dark and evil but still beautiful atmosphere that really draws you in. Of course, the atmosphere can’t be solely created by the vocals. The music is as big if not a bigger contributor to the overall atmosphere a song has. I feel that this group of musicians with their different histories and experiences all bring a little something different to contribute to the overall sound this band has created. The level of musicianship each member has over their weapon of choice is clearly very high and with the production of the album being so clear you can really appreciate each member’s contributions.
The overall sound is very symphonic, full of epic, orchestral sections, blast beats and down tuned guitars. It’s not overly original but at the same time I think they have a distinct sound to them. Most of the tracks on Carving An Icon have a great flow to them with seamless tempo changes and smooth transitions. Songs like “Vulture Kingdom,” “Whispers And Storms,” “Deranged,” “Shahanshaw,” and the title track “Carving An Icon” are all great examples of this. There are a few tracks like, “Funeral Of Kings,” and, “The Toxic Thousands” where I felt like the choruses seemed a little forced and the transitions weren’t as smooth, but even those songs have great elements to them and are certainly worthy of being included on the album. After all, to you those songs might be the best sounding of the bunch. Every song has a place on this album, there aren’t any songs that feel like filler songs to me, each song is part of the journey that Carving An Icon takes you on and it’s a journey I will most definitely go on again and again.
Overall I give Carving An Icon the debut album from the Norwegian, symphonic black metal band, Viper Solfa, 664 out of 666 horns. If you’re into epic, symphonic, black, power metal, or dark metal as some call it, or even “poison music” then don’t sleep on this album. The album is available through Massacre Records and features 10 tracks. Carving An Icon is in my opinion the best musical achievement I’ve heard come from any of Viper Solfa’s members. They have truly made something new to be proud of. Everything from the musicianship to the song structures, to the atmosphere of this album came out beautifully.
Shawn “Short-Fuse” Carter
BUY: Viper Solfa-Carving An Icon