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Soror Dolorosa - Apollo (2017) - Review

Band: Soror Dolorosa
Album title: Apollo
Release date: 15 September 2017
Label: Prophecy Productions

01. Apollo
02. Locksley Hall
03. That Run
04. Everyway
05. Night Is Our Hollow
06. Another Life
07. Breezed & Blue
08. Yata
09. The End
10. Long Way Home
11. A Meeting
12. Deposit Material
13. Golden Snake
14. Epilogue

"Color my dreams, my dreams write your shape."

French maestros of melancholic atmospheric sounds are back with a new album, Apollo, following their masterwork No More Heroes, which was released in 2013. Four years in the making, Apollo, is a delicacy, a true masterpiece made up of elements that range from gothic rock, cold wave, death rock, post-punk, ambient, shoeegaze and yet much more, still, Soror Dolorosa achived already with their previous two albums kind of their own sound, a deeply immersive, smimmeringly atmospheric and sweet melancholic flowing soundscapes. Soror Dolorosa formed back in 2001 by vocalist Andy Julia (also well known editorial photographer in Paris' elite fashion industry) and since then released one EP and two albums, Severance [EP] in 2009, Blind Scenes in 2011 and before mentioned No More Heroes in 2013, with all these releases they gained kind of a cult status inside the genre by channeling its inspiration's strong undercurrents of passion, nostalgia and mourning, transferring those powerful emotional states into the music they create. It's hard to properly describe what kind of emotions they are able to bring forth with their music, but one thing is certain, rare are bands that can do this in such a splendid way.

Apollo is Soror Dolorosa's crowning achievement, it's more than just a decent successor to No More Heroes, it's maybe even better album from some aspects, as it offers much more multidimensional and atmospheric sound than anything they did before. It's an album that brings forth mixed feelings of coldness and warmth in its 14 songs and 70 minutes of playing time. The band found the main inspiration for the songs in travels, "passing through plains, mountains, cities, forests and deserts; all of these sensations, all of these smells are remembered and represented within the songs simple melodies and die hard grooves", explains Andy Julia, and yes, Apollo is music that has that necessary drive and pathos that can be really enjoyable when you are driving, traveling or just being on the road to some distant places, but even if not, this album will most certainly take your imagination far away. With specific refined taste for pop sensibility merged with sombre melodies and ambiental sonorities, Apollo, is a highly addictive collection of songs that can easily go under your skin.

From the almost epic and groovy album title track on, the listener is engulfed in a world full of stunning beauty and haunting sadness. The dynamics of the album are best shown as passing of the four seasons, creating an audio life cycle, which can be best experienced with four sides of the double vinyl version of this album. With Andy Julia dramatic, dynamic, yet very distinctive baritone voice, Hervé's overdriven bass lines, sparkly gothic guitars played by Nicolas and David-Alexandre, smooth, delicate and strong when needed drumming by Frank, everything backened up with mesmerizing synths and other electronic additions that give kind of a mystical flavour to every single composition, Apollo is so very classy step for this band. I can say that Soror Dolorosa on this album sound like a long lost child raised up by Joy Division and Alcest, who had an aunt called The Cure and uncle Bauhaus. Strange combination but how else can I describe the captivating beauty of songs like is soaring "Locksley Hall" or highly atmospheric but too short "That Run", which enthuses with magnificient ambiental electronic samples.

It's very difficult to point out at a specific song, because Apollo is a sonic adventure made up of 14 quite diverse compositions and while you embark on this journey with Soror Dolorosa you'll traverse many different emotional states, but one thing is common in all of the songs, that's a delicate sweet melancholy and bittersweet nostalgia that breaths from every single note. Andy Julia and co. are able to go from serene melodies into kind of a psychedelic harsh stance in a very soft way, just listen for example to "Everyway", before being overtaken by the haze of ambiental ballad like "Night Is Our Hollow", by sweet cinematic depths of "Yata", or by their trademark post-wave-punk-pop sound in "Another Life" and "The End". There's often present kind of a retro 80s vibe, but stylistically Soror Dolorosa on Apollo are sounding fresh, I can say even modern and absolutely staggering. The Cure must be a big influence for them, "Breezed & Blue", has a certain Bloodflowers vibe present, just listen to the guitar here, beautiful!

Soror Dolorosa throughout the album mantain highly vibrant atmospheric sound and certain tension. This almost transcedental sound in many of songs smoothly builds up in atmosphere, making everything quite dramatic and to a certain degree also suspensful. Constantly bringing forth very emotional and rich sound compositions, they reach the peak of it with the acoustic heart melting sadness in "A Meeting" and then in transpiring, reverberate bass driven "Deposit Material", before drowning in the deepest waters of melancholy with "Golden Snake". The album ends in a rather strange way with dark suffocating tones named "Epilogue". Apollo is a highly immersive and introspective album, it offers a lot and a devoted listener will be able to discover with every consequent spin many hidden things. It's shining also because of meaningful and deep lyrics. Its impeccable production adds a lot of depth and kind of power to everything. It's nothing strange that the guys of Prophecy Productions signed this band to their roster of already great acts, because Soror Dolorosa with their stunning beauty and haunting sadness certainly bring new standards in a post-punk/new wave/gothic rock revival. I can easily say that Apollo is absolutely one of the highlights of 2017!

"And now we play right
Dappled in dim light
Driven to me now
I hear you sing
I know you play right
And now we play right."

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