Sun of the Sleepless – To the Elements (Lupus Lounge)

Friday, 7th July 2017
Rating: 8/10

The product of Empyrium/The Vision Bleak’s Ulf Theodor Schwadorf (real name: Marcus Stock), Sun of the Sleepless is one of those long-dormant projects revived to suit creative whims…and to explore the vast realms of atmospheric black metal. Schwadorf’s work in Empyrium and to a lesser degree, The Vision Bleak (who are far more straightforward), suggests he’s quite adept at volleying between folk bounds and black metal avenues. Lo and behold, the band’s first proper full-length, To the Elements, is dead-on.

It’s all Schwadorf here, with the man displaying the kind of top-level one-man black metal craftsmanship that doesn’t happen as often as we’d like. The tunes here are often quick, tumbling BM affairs, with steady blast patterns working in tandem with supple, melodic riffs. The playbook, while familiar, feels fresh and lively here, particularly on opener “The Burden” and “The Realm of the Bark,” a cut that provides harmonious clean vocals among never-ending melodic patterns. The album’s best cut happens to be “Phoenix Rise,” a song we were fortunate enough to stream prior to To the Elements’ release. An urgent, if not thrash-like foray, the song combines Schwadorf’s marvelous choral vocals with the temperament of classic BM.

It should not come as a surprise that Mr. Schwadorf has produced something of this quality, but perhaps it is quite remarkable that he was able to revive a project long in slumber and pop out an album with To the Elements’ aura and immediacy. A black metal effort for all shapes, sizes and seasons, To the Elements puts Sun of the Sleepless on the map.

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