Second to Sun – The Black (Self-Released)

Tuesday, 3rd July 2018
Rating: 8/10

In the tradition of odd pairings, certainly one would think groove and black metal to be two things that wouldn’t share much common ground. Groove metal is quite immediate and hook-based, leaning towards the more ‘commercial’ metal crowd, while black metal, of course, is rooted in the exact opposite. Yet somehow, Second to Sun rise above the odds and craft something intriguing with The Black without souring the perspective of either vibe.

What further fascinates about The Black is that it is actually a re-recording of sorts, with the original being that of 2016’s Blackbound. They’ve introduced vocals to the mix (as well as a few other enhancements) and given it a fresh polish. In mixing together these ingredients, Second to Sun have come up with something that’s truly captivating. It’s a bit of a rollercoaster, and it does take some leaps when looking at it from song-to-song, but these are more than acceptable risks considering the overall payoff. Some tracks range from the more post-black in orientation, going for a more of an atmospheric and ethereal edge (“Vasilisa”) to the more modern and almost djent-y in tone (“The Wall”). There’s a chaotic swirl to the music that makes it work, whether it’s hitting the listener with some frantic blast beats, surprisingly upbeat synths (“Region 13”), or hard-hitting and groovy riffs. There’s a sense of not entirely knowing what will be next around the corner, and the music uses that to its advantage by not following a direct path but still maintaining some level of cohesion.

Spanning from the bizarre to the dreamy, The Black covers plenty of ground. Proving yet more proof that black metal is incredibly malleable, this has all of the signs of something that shouldn’t work, yet draws you in with its approach and rather distinctive sound. The bonus is that there’s even more potential for the band to untap by continuing in this direction.

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