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Sun Of The Sleepless - To The Elements (2017) - Review

Band: Sun Of The Sleepless
Album title: To The Elements
Release date: 21 July 2017
Label: Prophecy Productions

01. The Burden
02. Motions
03. The Owl
04. Where In My Childhood Lived A Witch
05. Forest Crown
06. The Realm Of The Bark
07. Phoenix Rise

There's no doubt that the German label Prophecy Productions since its formation back in 1996 released some of the most intriguing albums and maybe some of the most influential albums of genres like black metal, post-rock/metal, neofolk, gothic, atmospheric metal,... Just a look at the list of the artists signed to this label tells a lot; Alcest, Antimatter, Negură Bunget, A Forest Of Stars, The Vision Bleak, Oberon, Empyrium, Klimt 1918, Lifelover, Les Discrets, GlerAkur, Darkher and much more. The staff of this label must have a very careful ear when it comes to choosing bands and so it's with the act named Sun Of The Sleepless and just recently released album To The Elements.

Sun Of The Sleepless is an one-man band by a very well known artist inside the German dark metal scene, Schwadorf (aka Markus Stock), the mastermind behind two of Prophecy Productions' most popular acts, Empyrium and The Vision Bleak. Schwadorf actually formed this band back in 1998 and since then released debut EP Poems To The Wretched Hearts (1999), the coveted 7" Tausend Kalte Winter released in 2000, which featured a trip hop take on the Darkthrone classic "En As I Dype Skogen" and in 2004 split EP with Nachtmahr. 13 years later, To The Elements is debut full-lenght for Sun Of The Sleepless and it consists of seven mesmerizing, intense, cold and highly atmospheric melodic black metal tracks.

Those of you who are familiar with Schwadorf's other bands (Empyrium, The Vision Bleak, Ewigheim,...), will certainly know that this man doesn't leave in his music anything to coincidence, rather than that he strives to achive always kind of a dark aura and mood, and the same thing is with Sun Of The Sleepless, where customary second wave black metal is graciously implemented with icy cold yet melancholic atmospheres, haunting soundscapes, often very melodic lines, overall consistent sound and amazing vocals that range from typical black metal shrieks to spoken words, chants and deep clean ones on certain parts, with lyrics inspired by great romantic writers of the ages.

To The Elements is a very strong album, and as far as it a bit resembles to the sounds of stylistic stalwarts from mid 90s such as Emperor, early Ulver, maybe a bit of Old Man's Child and drops of Darkthrone, there's a pinch of Empyrium heard in here, but the one who'll take this sonic journey will find some extra elements that are close also to the likes as Katatonia and of course, you'll find some parts that have a lot in common with The Vision Bleak. Sometimes the tracks are almost bewitching, very dark in its core but often nicely flowing and throughout captivating. Guitar lines are at least to say very ferocius, swifting between frostbiten tremolo picks and crushing melodic riffs, sometimes at the very border of death metal, other times even flirting with something that could be close to dark post-metal. Rhythmic line is absolutely stunning, powerful, driving, sometimes turbulent, other times close to doom metal. How strong, aggressive and destructive the sound of Sun Of The Sleepless can be it's pretty evident in the amazing first proper track named "Motions" or in the next one, "The Owl". Thanks also to great use of synths that create kind of a multidimensional bleak gothy ambiance, and nice acoustic insertions, the tracks get very dynamic and are easily consumed.

One of my favorites is absolutely dramatic and haunting "Where In My Childhood Lived A Witch". Such a pathos, such a higly atmospheric irresistible and dense addictive sound Schwadorf created here. Those constant shifts between doomy and fast speeding crushing rhythmic lines are simply breathtaking, add to that very well executed exchanges between harsh and clean vocals, and you'll get one of the most intriguing tracks heard lately. "Forest Crown" is something that you'll maybe expect to appear on one of the Empyrium albums, but this short acoustic/folkish intermezzo couldn't come in a more good time than now, right before the atmosphere gets intense again with the searing "The Realm Of The Bark" and another dark and dramatic goddamn good piece called "Phoenix Rise", with amazing synths, great vocals, catchy refrain and after that it comes one of the best guitar riffs on the album.

Sun Of The Sleepless with To The Elements created one of the best black metal albums released so far this year and even though it owes a lot to the legacy of Nordic black metal bands mentioned before it still sounds modern, thanks also to great productional value, it's somehow fresh and with some quite unique add ons. It feels like these 40 minutes of playing time are gone in an instant, there's always something going on and before you'll be consciously aware you'll be taken into the darkened icy cold world of shadows and murky dimensions with this addictive majestic piece of blackened music.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 9/10