Aug 28, 2011

SOL - Black Cloud Of Becoming ...

SOL, the bleak doom/death/drone metal project created by Danish multi-instrumentalist Emil Sol Brahe, started only in 2007 but since then its production has been steadily increasing and, for my taste at least, outstanding.

Here I am writing a review for one of the latest releases, the 2011 tape/EP Black Cloud of Becoming, co-released by the drone & doom label Drowning and Golem Tapes label in mid June 2011. However this release is well rooted in the complex, multifaceted and definitely grim style forged by Emil Brahe.

In neo Latin-speaking people like me “sol” recalls the sun, so the word gives an instinctively friendly feeling. But with Emil Brahe’s creature things are different, starting from the name of the official website, “solarmassacre”, which recalls the apparently friendly-sounding title of the debut album, Let There Be A Massacre.

But no slaughters are found, no gore here. The music in SOL is monolithic and extremely varied and harsh at the same time and is able to mirror both a deep sense of misanthropy (especially in the early works) as well as the perception of how small and uselessly bold humans are in front of natural forces and greater mysteries. This is more or less the direction of thought and the philosophy behind this musical project as a whole, as expressed by the author in interviews. However it is not difficult to grasp these feelings as soon as one “plunges” into SOL.

SOL’s style has been defined “True Jutlandian Doom Metal”. Maybe Denmark is not so morphologically harsh as the Norwegian coasts and mountainlands, but the majestic, “above human”, northern atmospheres rarely fail in conveying grim feelings and the sense of powers greater than us.

So as far as “communication” is concerned, SOL does strike you with emotions, powerful emotions, for sure. But SOL’s style has added values also for the richness in shades and sounds which are all controlled by Emil, who has been playing a wide range of “normal” metal instruments (guitars, bass, drums) as well as unusual, “rural”/folk instruments, such as accordion, clarinet, banjo, bells, maracas, trombone or a horn, plus drony/ambient electronic elaboration of sounds.

Many sources of inspirations for SOL’s “spurious” drony doom/death style are almost obvious and can be found in the drone, doom and sludge monsters like Earth, SunnO))), Khanate, Om, etc., in experimental and neo-folk bands like Current 93 or Death In June, in experimental drony psychedelia like Acid Mother Temple creatures, in northern raw and atmospheric black metal references like Mayhem, Burzum and Darkthrone, in old school death metal …

The sense of SOL’s one-man project may either be the said misanthropy and will of having everything under control, or else the activity of someone who loves to play and learn how to play any kind of musical instruments as well as to do experimentation.

Misanthropy seems to be just related to the emotions created by the music. SOL project has actually variably involved several guest musicians. Guests from the Danish Shiggajon ritual/folk free music collective and from the eclectic experimental band Singvogel (related to SOL as well) collaborated to the making of the Black Cloud of Becoming EP. Also a split and a communal album were released in the past: the split with funeral doom band Grívf and the album Old Europa Death Chants in collaboration with the Danish black metal band Blódtrú. A line-up for live performances has been created as well.

So let’s get bothered about the tunes …

The 2011 Black Cloud of Becoming EP is just majestic and breath-taking. Not the everyday dose of groovy heavy doom tunes for sure, but heaviness comes by loads like a storm announced by a distant rumble.

Maybe it was the effect I got when I first listened to this EP. It was early morning while walking alone along a road flanking a winding river gorge surrounded by steep flanks covered by lonesome woodland, with low wet clouds coming downhill and a grey sky above … It was actually hot and humid but the visual sensation was like being along a fjord.

The EP is slightly over 25 minutes-long and includes three tracks, the first two sum up to almost 20 minutes and the third is around 5 minutes long. By the way, a rip of it is available for free download provided by the label.

Long tracks, thus long albums, are often necessary for this kind of style. However the unusual shortness of this release does not fail in building up a “complete”, self-contained work. This is probably because in this release Emil blended the atmospheric but shaking doom-death sounds and vocal style, occasionally winking to raw black metal, typical of SOL’s earlier releases, with the acoustic experimentation in the 2011 album “Offer Thy Flesh To The Worms” (check out the review in the Archive).

As a matter of fact, the long opening track Womb is totally acoustic, intimate and cold in it solemnity at the same time, in a way that may recall Wardruna’s sounds and ambience. Something huge is evoked by the growing buzz opening Womb, and the clouds are a cool image for something that is huge, above us, and that can be cheerful or grow menacing. The drony electronic buzz seems to start from the deformation of the low sound of a cello or a horn, then it grows in waves and midway through the track it is overlapped by the sounds of accordion, organ and eventually violin playing together. You have to wait for almost 10 minutes and for the second track, Yielding To The Sound Of Clouds, to find SOL’s typical desperately nasty, annihilating, drony doomy heaviness. There Emil’s powerful, scary awesome growls explode and unleash a crushing doom attack done by heavily distorted guitars and bass sounds and extremely slow but gut-shaking percussions (lots of cymbals) over an echoing melancholic melody developing somehow in a background space. The explosion of sounds of the second track extinguishes in a rapid way and gives way to the 5 minutes-long closing track, Becoming Black Cloud. There the desperate screams and the dramatic, distorted sounds of the second track blend with the softer keyboard-accordion (plus horns?) sounds heard at the beginning. The resulting melody is less tragic, it gradually grows into a massively vibrating sound and eventually ends up swallowing up the shouts and the guitar sounds in a tremendously epic and solemn way.

The production in this release is quite something and is perfect for dealing with SOL’s extreme mixture of dark minimalistic and abrasive thumping sounds that have been duly compared to Earth’s multishaded production. The rawness and the echoing effects dominating the second track are perfect to evoke a sense of huge, three-dimensional space, the entrance into something big, after the numbing effect of the buzzy and then solemn intro. The outro is simply monumental and you feel as if you were in the middle of an empty cathedral in ruins. Or else along a fjord … 9/10

Review Written By Mari

Sol's Official Website
SOL’s page @ label Drowning
SOL’s tape @ label Golem Tapes
Free Download from the Drowning label

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