Out of all the different types of experimental metal I’ve tried to listen to, I’ve always found black metal to be the hardest to enjoy. I think it’s partially due to black metal’s sound—let’s face it, black metal rough genre to listen to even without experimental takes on it; it defies normal expectations for music (even metal music, if you really think about it), and to an ear not expecting it, sounds like noise (even though that’s not quite the case). As much as my good friend Scott Murphy loved the 2015 Mastery album VALIS, I couldn’t find much in it that I liked.
Of course, there are a few exceptions to my earlier statement; in fact, Blut Aus Nord’s 777—The Desanctification was one of the first black metal albums I listened to that I genuinely enjoyed, and my introduction to The Botanist through the IV: Mandragora album definitely opened my eyes to how people could twist black metal traditions to their own device.
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Germany’s Sun Worship may not have the huge avant-garde twist on their music that Blut Aus Nord or The Botanist are known for, but they nonetheless play really solid black metal, with just a few little songwriting hooks that keep their music interesting and fresh throughout the entire listen. I’m not entirely familiar with the band, having only really listened to their newest release, 2016’s Pale Dawn, but what I’ve heard I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.
What really threw me for a cool loop was the vocals on Pale Dawn’s self-titled opener. It sounds almost like Death from Mayhem fame, but as if his voice had been fed through a vocoder and/or drenched in reverb or something, as if Cynic had decided to record a black metal album during their Focus era. It was a cool effect that brought me in, and it thankfully isn’t forced into your face with unnecessary repetition through the album; the next track “Lichtenberg Figures” doesn’t even use it, while the third track “Naiad” does.
And, seriously, the artwork on Pale Dawn—so damn cool. It manages to embrace the black metal aesthetic without a stark black and white color scheme or satanic/pagan imagery.