Sun Worship "Pale Dawn"

Music that you just can't escape from is a rare commodity nowadays.  I mean there's the horrible feeling of being trapped in the car with your non-metal appreciating partner playing endless shite on the radio as you undertake an equally endless journey for some "time together", but thankfully there's also occasion when a record actually surrounds you.  Actually, a really good record can suck you into its atmosphere, distract you from reality and make you forget your family, work and social commitments for a few days.

The irony of me opening my review in the middle of July of a release that came out in May with lauding the "inescapability" of the record is not lost on me.  I was aware that Sun Worship had released a follow up to their frankly superb "Elder Giants" from 2014 but had somehow failed to get round to listening for a whole two months.  If you have had the pleasure of listening to "Elder Giants" then you will know it to be a superb collection of well layered atmosphere, memorable melodies and furious blasting BM that release is.  What has followed on "Pale Dawn" sticks very much to the same formula and style, yet it also has a significantly more powerful feel to proceedings.

The opening (and title) track begins with some rather odd sounding chanting/shouting vocals over some furiously harsh and abrasive guitars and rumbling and blasting drums.  When it breaks into pace it does so with majesty and prowess.  As with any good opening track the structure becomes more powerful as it builds.  It is an opening salvo, an initial assault that devastates the frontlines.  Within two minutes you're shrouded in the ethereal and beastly sound as it builds layer, upon layer, upon layer of solid riffs and blasts.  Nine minutes and nine seconds later you try and pause for breath but track two immediately knocks any available wind out of your lungs.  "Lichtenberg Fingers" picks up exactly where "Pale Dawn" leaves off.  Powerful and strong, the background filled with that hazy reverb and dark echo of the instruments as though the band are performing in a hall somewhere.  It charges forwards with aggressive riffs and blistering drums for nearly eleven minutes.  But Sun Worship aren't done with you yet.

As "Naiad" stomps, thunders and thumps on into proceedings like some pissed off giant there does appear to be an endless loop of repetitive fury, but if you listen closely you can hear the subtle changes in note beneath the tortured and demented shouting of the vocals.  Still the delivery is utterly relentless and punishing but this is not "broootal!!" BM here, no this is something more calculated, more strategic without sounding predictable or boring.  You get offered life lines of melody as you are tossed and twisted on the turgid sea of riffs and tumultuous instrumentation.

Things only really take a (small) step down when it comes to the final track "Perihelion".  Opening with a feedback laden intro the track develops into a familiar frenzy in terms of pace but infuses a tad more melody into proceedings.  There's even a clean vocals passage in there with a more folky edge to them.

In the world of BM and the endless list of cliches - burning churches, face paint, big shiny swords and lots of snow - there are some genuine dark stars out there still.  Sun Worship are oddly bright in the otherwise murky mass of modern BM in the sense that they abandon none of the aesthetic of the sound of BM but aren't afraid to build on that foundation to layer in some serious atmosphere without going symphonic.  They rely purely on their instruments to build these shrouds of darkness around the listener.  For all the beauty in dark places that so often makes itself evident in many of my reviews is replaced here by sheer majesty and prowess.

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