For the first half of the album, it's hard to believe that Ólafur Arnalds was once a drummer for an Icelandic metal band. But once the drums kick in on '3055', it becomes quite apparent.
Eulogy for Evolution, Arnalds' debut album, has a strange concept behind it, involving the photo artwork in the booklet and the time at which the photos were taken (it's hard to explain). Right from the title track '0040' we are exposed to Arnalds' talents as a multi-instrumentalist, with a haunting string arrangement that eases into a mellow piano. As the strings return, the piano slowly drifts out so the song finishes as it started. '0048/0729' brings an abrupt end to the strings, only to introduce them again as the track progresses.
The album continues this calming trend through to '3055', where it just explodes with all kinds of awesomeness. The strings and the piano gain a new intensity that the drums bring to the song. It makes for a truly amazing crescendo that's like nothing I've ever heard. '3326' is entirely a string arrangement, which leads into the album closer '3704/3837', a surprising climax which features distorted guitars and more drums, showcasing Arnalds' metal roots, before distorting back into the mellow piano for a fitting finish. At first this climax can be a bit off-putting, but after a few listens it seems to fit in perfectly.
Ólafur Arnalds does what any great composer and instrumentalist should. He creates a powerful atmosphere in his music without the need for vocals. As remarkable as the music alone is, what makes it all the more staggering is Arnalds himself. It's quite something to realize that when he made this masterpiece, he was only 20 years old.