|Review: Sun of the Blind - Skullreader|
Label: Avantgarde Music
Year released: 2009
Genre: Black Metal
Review online: June 23, 2009
Reviewed by: Caspian
Rated 4/5 (80%) (5 Votes)
Generally, the whole Burzum + Katatonia type of Black Metal has worn pretty thin; getting a few super distorted chords and adding some dissonant arpeggios other the top has been done to death as of late. Sun of the Blind isn't really helping with this glut of similar stuff but it's better than most, and somewhat unique; there's a bunch of Darkspace type riffs and electronics in here (hardly surprising, considering Zhaaral plays in that band) and that straight ahead martial type feel added in to the usual Burztonia sound. In short, this is some really good stuff and the best mid-paced Black Metal I've heard for a while.
I don't really want to call this "shoegazey", because there's no My Bloody Valentine influence or anything, but there is some sort of truth to that label; the songs here are really, really layered and fuzzed out. Man, heaps of layers; clean, somewhat seasick arpeggios often rising above the churning morass and echoing out, tons of spacey leads with a strong psychedelic influence, samples, pristine and cold synths, e-bowed guitars all hovering above a steady, churning rhythmic backbone of some Darkspace and Filosofem-loving riffs and an unobtrusive rhythm section. "Vanitas" definitely justifies Darkspace comparisons, with its huge, martial death-trudge riff, whereas the despairing and grandiose "Ornaments" sounds a surprising amount like M83, particularly with the fuzzy e-bowed guitar lines floating through the mix. It's all helped by some rather nice production values - layers kept in check nicely, so the steady, churning hypnosis of the album doesn't become all mudded up and opaque.
Granted, if you're not terribly keen on the idea of fuzzy, spacey Black Metal then there's not a great deal to recommend here - this isn't terribly restrained in its ambition to out-space Darkspace and out-fuzz Burzum, but fuzzy stuff gives me a boner and this is no exception. It's just really grandiose and huge; the sound to some rather unsettling space opera, and it's just done really well, with enough attention to composition and arranging to keep the interest level high through the fairly long songs- the unexpected and subtle use of female vocals in "Lord of Mind" being a great example. The dude isn't afraid to get a bit pretty and almost Funeral Doom-y at points ("Ornaments", again) but these moments are rare; Zhaaral's got no ambitions to be a fuzzier Alcest. "Cursed Universe" is probably the heaviest and least friendly here, as a bunch of lurching, uneasy riffs and clean parts keep you feeling vaguely woozy and seasick throughout the whole thing. It's a great track, for sure.
I wouldn't say this is my favourite album of all time but I can certainly see it getting a lot of rotation; it's really well executed and while there could be a bit more variation tempo wise it's still a great record. Highly recommend for fans of Darkspace, Katatonia and Burzum.
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