Solefald is a Norwegian avant-garde metal/black metal band that was formed by members Lars Are “Lazare” Nedland and Cornelius Jakhelln in August 1995, with Lars singing and playing keyboard/synthesizer/piano and drums, and Cornelius singing and playing guitar and bass. The meaning of the band’s name is best explained in an interview from Century Media Records website. Lazare states “Solefald is an old Norse word for sunset. We ‘stole’ it from a painting by the Norwegian artist Theodor Kittelsen. His two paintings ‘Soleglad’ and ‘Solefald’ portrays the cycle of being, and we found it to be a very fitting idea for our band.” Cornelius also states “‘Solefald’ means literally ‘the fall of the sun’, or just ‘sunset’; the way we spell it is Danish, from the 19th century.”
Their first official rehearsal together was in 1995 with the song “When The Moon Is On The Wave.” They released their first, 5 song demo, entitled Jernlov (translated to Iron Law in English), in 1996. Jernlov was the band’s most traditional black metal release, but the band had an experimental edge, incorporating Lazare’s clean vocals and piano passages into the black metal formula. They were one of the first bands in the black metal genre to incorporate new elements into the style, including a bag pipe passage in one song.
The band was signed by the Milanese record label, Avantgarde Music, in 1996. In July 1997, the band released a follow-up to their demo. This first full-length release was called, The Linear Scaffold. The album was an expansion of the style on the demo. The album had a better recording quality, and contained 8 songs, two of which had previously been on the demo, but were now re-written and re-recorded. The band incorporated sounds and techniques that had never been heard in black metal before, using hand claps along with choruses in the song “Philosophical Revolt”, jazzy clean guitar passages, and shrieked vocals over piano pieces. The album also featured vocals in English and Norwegian. When this album was released, the band coined the term “Red Music With Black Edges” to define themselves.
In 1998 the band began to adventure out of the studio and onto their first and only tour. The band toured through Europe supporting symphonic metal band Haggard with gothic metal band Tristania. Being a two-piece band, they employed the use of John Erik Jacobsen (aka Didrik von PanzerDanzer) on second guitar, who recently toured with, then joined, Cornelius’ new band Sturmgeist. Drummer Tarald Lie and ex-Dimmu Borgir member Jens-Petter Sandvik on the bass completed Solefald’s live line-up. A press statement released in July 2012 announced Solefald’s return to the stage for 2 festival dates, first on 15 September 2012 at the Southern Discomfort festival in Kristiansand, Norway and the second at the 2013 Inferno Festival in Oslo. Session instrumental support for both concerts will be handled by Norwegian death metal band, In Vain.
Starting in 1998 the two members started branching out into other musical endeavours, with Lazare performing the drums for the album Black Shining Leather by the Norwegian black metal band Carpathian Forest. Later, in July 1999, Cornelius did guest vocals for the gothic metal band Monumentum for the songs “Black And Violet”, a cover of the Italian band Death SS, and “The Colour of Compassion”. These recordings were released in 2004 on the Monumentum compilation album, Metastasi.
In 1999, the band released their second full-length, entitled Neonism on 24 September. The album incorporated black metal, pop, classical music, punk, and progressive metal. The album also featured more vocal techniques from each member. Singing in English and French, Lazare brought back his clean vocals, but also introduced a new style, in the form of hollering. Cornelius still used his high pitched wails and shrieks and his lower grunting, but he also introduced a style of spoken word singing. The lyrics were unconventional for metal in general and black metal especially, dealing with socio-political issues and pop culture criticism. The album received mixed reviews, with some criticizing it for being too adventurous. The band even received a death threat from the USA from someone that considered the album an abomination to black metal. Others knocked it for its thin recording quality. The band stated that they used this quality because of the multi-layered song structures demanding a thinner sound to allow the many facets of the music to shine through. Another reasoning was that they wanted to use the recording style at the famed Sunlight Studios to achieve the “old school black metal” sound. The album’s recording was also plagued with problems, including a mixing board that literally started burning. The band coined the term “Radical Designer Rock ‘n’ Roll”, for this release.
Following this album, the Solefald camp grew quiet for a little while. Lazare joined progressive black metal band Borknagar as keyboard player and back-up vocalist. In 2000, Borknagar released their first release with Lazare playing with them, Quintessence.
In 2001, Solefald came together to release their third full-length. The new album, entitled Pills Against The Ageless Ills, was a concept album based on a fictitious tale written by Cornelius. Musically, Pills is more straightforward than Neonism. The album features more prominent guitar, with the keys acting as an accent and background instrument much of the time. Whereas Neonism consisted of songs that would each have a variety of styles and genres within them, Pills has a variety of different style songs, each focusing individually on a certain style. Vocally, the band had made yet another change. Maintaining Lazare’s style and getting rid of his hollering style singing, and keeping Cornelius’ lower black metal grunting, “Pills” saw the addition of a less high pitched black metal shriek from Cornelius, as well as Cornelius’ most common style of singing to date. This new vocal style is a throaty sounding form of vocals, similar to some gothic rock bands. This album, released on 19 September 2001, was Solefald’s first album released through the German record label Century Media.
A diverse album
The next Solefald endeavour came in 2003 with the full-length album In Harmonia Universali, released on 24 March 2003. The album contained 10 songs, with each song’s lyrics devoted to various artists, philosophers, and deities. The lyrics are also sung in four languages on this album, English, Norwegian, French, and German. They incorporated a Steinway grand piano, a male choir, authentic Spanish classical acoustic guitar, violin, and saxophone. The music was layered, consisting of composite riffs and leads from the guitars and hammond keyboard sections. Vocally this found Cornelius eschewing his black metal vocal approach, sticking strictly with this throaty spoken word performance. Lazare’s vocals stayed primarily the same. This was their last album released on Century Media.
In 2003 Lazare continued expanding his involvement in other bands with his inclusion as clean singer into the viking/folk/black band Ásmegin. In 2004 he joined the avant-garde metal band Age Of Silence as singer and main lyricist, which includes members such as Andy Winter from the band Winds, and Hellhammer from such bands as Arcturus, Mayhem, Winds, and many more. Age Of Silence released a new three song EP entitled Complications – Trilogy Of Intricacy on October 11, 2005 as a lead into their approaching second full-length. Lars has continued to do guest vocal work, being featured on the Winds album, Prominence and Demise, the Pantheon I album The Wanderer And His Shadow and the Havoc Unit album h.IV+ (Hoarse Industrial Viremia). He is also still with Borknagar, who released Universal in 2010.
In early 2005, Cornelius released the first full-length album Meister Mephisto, through Season of Mist from his solo band, Sturmgeist, an experimental black/thrash metal band with industrial overtones. Lazare contributed back-up vocals on this release, along with vocalist Fuchs of Weimar’s Die Apokalyptischen Reiter. Following shortly after the release of Black For Death, Cornelius and Lazare continue to release more music from other projects. Cornelius released his second and third Sturmgeist albums entitled Über and Manifesto Futurista respectively. He also recorded an experimental electronica/metal album under the band name G.U.T. entitled My Only Drug Is Madness. He is also writing the libretto for a contemporary opera telling a story from the pagan times of the North.
Later in the year 2005, the band travelled to Iceland, with funding from Tekstforfatterfondet, to write their next album. Originally planning to release one new album, the group wound up writing so much new material, they decided they would release two new albums. This two part saga is the story written by Cornelius about Bragi, a Skald in Iceland. It was announced on 28 March that the band and Season of Mist had parted ways.
In January 2008, a Solefald remix album, entitled The Circular Drain was released through Cornelius Jakhelln’s independent label, Von Jackhelln Inhuman, signed and limited to 1,000 copies. It features remixes by Havoc Unit, James Fogarty project “The Bombs of Enduring Freedom”, Zweizz, and others. In addition to these remixes, the CD also contains the entire Jernlov demo, marking the first time it has appeared on a digital medium.
The band went on to sign with Norwegian label Indie Recordings. They released their 7th full-length, entitled Norrøn Livskunst (“The Norse art of Life”) on 15 November 2010. The album features guest vocals by Agnete Kjølsrud (ex-Animal Alpha, Djerv) who was also featured the album Abrahadabra released by Dimmu Borgir in 2010 as well. It also marks Solefald’s first guitar solo, brought in by the guest guitarist Vangelis Labrakis of the band, Mencea. The album marked the first time the band recorded an album with nearly entirely Norwegian lyrics. In a press release it was stated that “The lyrics on ‘Norrøn livskunst’ are written in a ‘høgnorsk’ style approaching the Norse — the sound ought to cut like a knife!”
Other than music
Aside from music, Lazare is a newscaster for TVNorge, and Cornelius is an accomplished writer/poet, with many published writings including a tetralogy of poems entitled Quadra Natura.
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World Metal: Kosmopolis Sud / 2015
Norrøn Livskunst / 2010
In Harmonia Universali / 2003
Neonism / 1999
The Linear Scaffold / 1997
Jernlov / 1996
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