I was super excited when I heard that the great Icelandic bands Legend and Sólstafir were releasing a split single, with each band covering a song of the other. The vinyl version was limited to 300 copies – 140 black, 90 silver, and 70 red; there was also a cassette version released in a whole bunch of different colors too. As soon as I learned of it back in October I ordered my copy.
Due to various unforeseen circumstances, it took a while for this sucker to come out. But on Record Store Day, of all days, it arrived in my mailbox. While I had just returned home with a stack of new vinyl, this was the one I was the most excited about giving a spin.
Side A features Legend’s version of Sólstafir’s “Fjara,” from their 2011 double album Svartir Sandar which I actually posted about a while back. Krummi’s vocals are PERFECT for covering Sólstafir, and Halldor knows how to create a sonic soundscape that captures the dreariness of the original. About half way through they combine to kick it up a notch and switch from something similar to the original, to a purely Legend track, which was a great and unexpected twist. They started with something that stayed somewhat true to the original, then exploded out and made it their own. Nice.
Sólstafir performs Legend’s “Runaway Train” on side B, a staple of their live set and a truly relentless song. Oh man, Sólstafir absolutely put their own stamp all over this one. They sort of did the reverse of what Legend did on their track – the first part is a melancholy Sólstafir version of this song (playing it in their own style), and then it flips to a more fast tempo Legend-like style, though Sólstafir still keep their distinctive wall of sound, which is totally different than the “cleaner,” more precise sound of the original. I was surprised that they selected “Runaway Train” instead of something like “City” or “Devil In Me,” but they killed it.
These are two bands I like, and I’ve had the privilege of seeing both live at Airwaves – Sólstafir once and Legend three times. They’re both fantastic in their own rights, and I was impressed with how they branched out on these covers. Both bands play a sort of doom and gloom style of music, though taking different approaches to the same overall mood. I was intrigued that, at least to my ears, both songs seemed to start in the style of Sólstafir before making a sudden, violent departure to take on Legend-style intensity. I’m not sure if this was intentional, accidental, or if I’m just over-thinking it, but regardless it created something very intriguing to me.
I’m not sure if/where you can find this, as the entire original run is sold out. I saw one copy each of the vinyl and cassette on Discogs with an asking price of about $40 apiece, which is certainly pretty steep. But don’t despair, my friends, as it appears that there is a limited edition 7″ reprint… that comes with the cassette copy too, available HERE! So don’t say I didn’t tell you – go out and order your copy now!