Never review an album or a band on just one listen. That is something I’ve lived by long before I started Resounding Footsteps, when I was just deciding whether or not to keep a certain album in my collection. If you like it, great, listen to it again and find the nuances and subtleties, if you didn’t listen again and look at how the band’s sound tries to come together. After a few listens if the album just doesn’t work, then you can say you didn’t like it. You haven’t wasted your time, you’ve expanded your musical knowledge, you’ve learned something about your tastes in music and refined them. It’s worth the cost of listening to something you may not enjoy.
It took a few listens for me to really into Sun Worship. There is nothing inherently bad or cliché about them, there was just something intangible in the first few listens that did not fit with what I was expecting from the band. I gave it a rest, listened to something else (Mayhem if you must know) as a palate cleanser and listened to Sun Worship for a third time. This time I enjoyed. What changed? The music certainly had not nor had the vocals or the timing. The atmosphere seemed different though, somehow my ears had been clogged (metaphorically not literally) and after stepping back I could see what was bothering me and why. The vocals.
The vocals are the part of a band that can elevate them to kvlt status or dump them into the pile of bandcamp squalor. Sun Worship’s vocalist is a bit scattered, at times he sounds like he’s trying to emulate Dead (or maybe that was influenced by me listening to Mayhem) while other times he sounds like he is doing his own thing. I loved the parts were he growled and screeched with his own style, I felt that was when the band was coming together and sounded amazing. There were times, when he was groaning rather than growling that sounded to me like they couldn’t decide how to arrange the vocals to fit the music so they went with what sounded harshest. I think that was a mistake because they proved at many points in “Pale Dawn” that they could create some amazing musical and vocal arrangements. Why there was such a shift in the harsh vocals I am not sure, but I think these guys have a good future ahead of them if they simply take their time to arrange every piece together perfectly. The benefits of a well-blended, well produced, well-orchestrated album far outstretch one that comes out quickly.
The music of Pale Dawn was absolutely stellar, it was as if they took the grandiose, cavernous feeling of atmospheric black metal and married it to the grimy, nasty style and speed of raw black metal. They get top marks for their musicianship, it really carries the album well. The sound creates a wonderful environment, a cold and mucky swamp that the listener and the musician journey together to reach the “Pale Dawn” and reach some sort of enlightenment or renaissance.
Pale Dawn was a good album; I am glad I have my rules in place to keep me from judging an album too quickly (unless it’s metalcore but that’s another story altogether) because I think I would have judged this album too quickly.
Listen and support!