Melancholy and music has always been a ready-made success and it comes as no finer a persuasion than Eve, the new album from Scottish band Sunwølf. Admittedly emotion and thick suggestiveness is only one shade in the creative palette of the band’s fourth full-length but a commanding one. A predominantly instrumental exploration of celestial and intimate landscapes bred from drone and post metal textures caught in emotive doom spawned ambiences, Eve is a vehicle for the imagination to conjure and emotions to embrace and question their own sources.
The successor to the Beholden To Nothing And No One of 2014, Eve finds Sunwølf venturing into “a broader palette of sound, whilst retaining the signature SW gloom.” The nine track incitement is certainly the band’s most low key and stripped back proposal yet but equally their most richly provocative and invasive exploration of composing and sound. Recorded throughout 2015 in the band’s newly built studio in North East Scotland and with long time Sunwølf producer Ross Halden assisting with mixing, Eve swiftly has ears and thoughts involved courtesy of opener Gilded Heart. Its opening melodic coaxing is beguiling whilst around it a gentle but certainly darker atmosphere adds evocative shadowing. The repetitious skill of the band is as hypnotic as ever, though rather than a droning lure here, the track unveils it as a seductive lure ever increasing in potency even as vocal squalls share their post hardcore like delivery and angst.
The track has thoughts and emotions drawn with ease, the imagination creating and exploring its own corners of anxiety and emotional turbulence as much as interpreting the track’s sonic theme. Alone, that incitement is an irresistible aspect to the album, a reason to explore the contrasting landscapes of tracks like A Rest Mid The Gloaming and Quell which follow. The first of the pair shrouds its presence in even darker imposing shadows and doomy trespasses; the singular strand of melodic solemnity as inviting and toxic, depending on the mood at the time, to thoughts as the lumbering, almost occultist prowl of heavy riffs aligned to matching bass and rhythms. The second is a far more intimate entity compared to the broad trespass of its predecessor, a spoken narrative shaping the first half and a wind-rush of sonic evocation and bracing emotive energy colouring the second.
Both tracks enthral and impose, being matched in success by the more forgiving rock ‘n’ roll of Haar, though it too has a tempestuousness in tone and emotion which casts acidic grooves and nagging sludge thick lures into a portentous mix of sound and raw vocals. As demanding as that track is, its successor Sun Of My Soul is gently bewitching. Expectantly, the elegant seducing is lined with intimate shadows and heavily toned ambience with loneliness and melancholic despair ingredients found by the imagination as the piece almost winds around its eager interpretation. Soon emerging as the favourite track within Eve, its soulful beauty is quickly rivalled by the album’s title track and it’s similarly heart bred inference and melodic grace. To raise such beauty from often lone strands of certainly hypnotic but drone sculpted enticing is a craft few develop but as Eve shows, Sunwølf craft it with real majesty.
Brother brings a compelling blues hue to its lonesome soundscape next, guitars a sultry sigh amongst skittish but ordered rhythms as the track offers another inescapable potent magnet for thought and pleasure. For personal tastes, this three track centre is the heart and pinnacle of the album, the point where body and emotions are most immersed and displaced from reality to cast their own adventures. As Frontier confirms straight away though, around that point band and release only engage and fascinate for an almost slavish response. A cold shimmering flight across a lugubrious landscape, the song glows with a calm and resonance as joyful and invigorating as its touch and sultry climate is gloomy and despondent, and in its unique way, breath-taking.
The album closes with Winterworn, a piece of music and doleful emotional weaving as downcast as it is arresting. The tapestry of dark and light in all aspects simply transfixes as it incites mind and soul. In so many ways it epitomises the album whilst providing a closing statement of a crestfallen heart and its rapturous sorrow.
Eve will ignite different thoughts and emotions in each person but if you want to be challenged, wish to feel beyond just ears, then Sunwølf and their new album are the perfect cathartic experience.
Pete RingMaster 15/04/2016
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