Sun of the Blind – Skullreader – 4/5
Another album that grows on you, over the course of subsequent listens having it transform from an unusual tone that you enjoy but too readily lose track of, all the way an enveloping barrage of thick distorted black atmosphere. The solo work from the man responsible for the vocals in ‘Darkspace,’ his work there is readily observed here in its highly distorted (and almost reminiscent of the tone created by Albini for ‘Big Black) theatrical space tone. This is black metal of a new variety, certainly not a simple Burzum clone, it could almost be considered ambient, except it’s in no way content to sit in the background. Rather than leaping at the listener as with conventional black metal, it instead works around you surrounds you in a thick darkness, with laborious use of the eBow (a device used to play a guitar like a violin) and almost electronic-toned guitar harmonies, it results in an array of sounds to lose yourself in.
Composed entirely by the one man, its suffice to say he has done a remarkable job. The vocals are used lightly for emphasis, with a breathy, icy tone they lie in the back, performing everything from harrowing screams to deeper growls, heard yet lost behind the guitar work where the focus clearly lies. It is here he is not content to go for simplicity, providing layer upon layer of spell-binding black magic. With the intensely distorted eBow backing providing a smooth and epic tone in much the same way as keys can for other symphonic BM acts. Working with the rhythm guitar in harder hitting manner to create a pulsating flow and then on top of all this is a cleaner, thinner toned layer, cutting through the thickly smothered sound like a knife, piercing with subtle rhythm.
And there’s no shortage of variety either, frequently working without one of these aspects only to give a sudden rush when everything comes together, creating an almost oriental sounding piece in ‘Thirst and Fire,’ or a more doom-like crawled pace in ‘Ornaments,’ no track quite sounds like another. Certainly black ambient fans should find much here to their liking, but I expect those with a liking for unconventionally thick, atmospheric and epic monstrosities in the same vein as Agalloch will also find something to their liking.
Highlights: Cursed Universe, Ornaments