Suldusk – Anthesis (Napalm)

Friday, 23rd February 2024
Rating: 8.5/10

Suldusk brought a certain melancholy and stirring of emotions with their 2019 debut, Lunar Falls. Then the brainchild of solely Emily Highfield, it was a poignant and occasionally explosive release that stuck with the listener. Here we now sit with Suldusk in 2024 with an expanded, full-band roster and signed to Napalm Records, the first thought that bubbled up was that of, ‘would the band’s sense of intimacy and bleak dreaminess be hindered with the seeming addition of more is more?’ With the case of Anthesis, the answer is an immediate no, as it continues to capture that mystical, brooding ethereal sound and turns it into something that is even more breathtaking.

One major piece that really brings Suldusk’s sound to frighteningly impressive levels is how chilling and morose it can be at times, yet it’s equally vibrant and full of life. Like the debut, it’s completely suited to that grey, snowy/rainy day type of listen, with sweeping strings and organic atmosphere that provides that neofolk setting, but the buzzing guitars and drums give it some massive heft and raw power. Highfield’s almost cooing vocals as the gentle strumming of guitar and relaxed drum beats at the start of “Crowns of Esper” build up a whimsical, poignant setting that feels like woodsy dreamstate. But the follow-up in “Crystalline” captures something that keeps that shadowy magic intact, while escalating the music into dreary blackened territory. An imaginative combination that really pulls Suldusk into unclassifiable musical directions, in the best of ways. The mood can be lush and inviting, such as the powerful closer “A Luminous End” showcases, but it only takes a mere pindrop to cause the band to take the emotional tension and catapult it into spiraling blastbeats and haunting screams. Yet no matter what, the sound of Suldusk remains distinctly personal and nothing short of gripping.

Magical, emotive, and utterly dreamlike in execution – be they dreams or nightmares – Suldusk enrapture the listener to follow them down the musical well with Anthesis. It’s the type of album that you can close your eyes, turn up the volume, and completely immerse yourself in. It will take you on a trip through very somber, and occasionally intense, illusory waters that should have no problem sparking the imagination. The type of music that should entice a listen by hearing only a few seconds of what they can do, Suldusk should have no troubles finding their way into quite a few new listeners ears with a bigger label behind them, as it truly should be.

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