Sunwølf is a new favourite band of mine and I would probably have missed out of their brilliant and versatile Beholden To Nothing And No One if Matt from Sunwølf hadn't contacted me and asked me to listen to them. As I’m sitting here writing these words I am listening to their first two albums Beyond the Sun from 2012 and Midnight Moon from 2013 which both offers really enjoyable instrumental ambient post-rock/drone recordings with a combination of a nice relaxing warmth and grand emotionless space. Midnight Moon has some stoner rock influences, which I like, who doesn’t like fat vibrating guitars? Well enough about the old stuff! Onwards to 2014 and a completely different chapter for Sunwølf.
Beholden To Nothing And No One is a very diverse double album. Disc one holds some great atmospheric, drone, stoner/sludge, post-rock and doom-ish tracks that are more raw but also more ethereal than their previous releases. Disc two holds absolutely wonderful ambient drone/shoe-gaze compositions that will mesmerise you. One major thing that differentiates this release from their previous releases is the addition of vocal on some of the tracks and of course the many guest appearances!
I have written about each and every track on my personal blog but will refrain from it here, even though each track has their own highlights I’ll give you the opportunity to go on your own journey and discover this double album by yourself and hopefully you’ll get your own visions while doing so. You might get the same chills I got when listening to the opening track "In the Darkened River I Found the Silence Loom". The delicate vocal of Tiffany Ström (from Myyths and Fvnerals) accompanied by Alex Hannan (Band of Hope Union) on violin, elevates the song to a dreamlike realm where time stops.
After a delicate ethereal and melancholic start, more bleak, nihilistic, post-apocalyptic compositions takes over with a rawer, more slow-grinding drone/doom/sludge/stoner pace. The tracks "Vultures Crown" and "The Wake Of Leviathan" offers gritty, screeching, noisy guitars, a raw vocal delivered by Ben Corkhill (the abominable cave goblin from Bongcauldron), pounding drums and a bass thick as mud. Another guest vocalist, Phillip Flock‘s (Aleph Null), can be found on the next track: "Thrown Into A Nameless Time".
The title track "Beholden To Nothing And No One" is as beautiful as it is drained from all kinds of warmth. Desolate, vast, barren, ethereal, emotional and chilling. "Heathens Rest" continues on the same path – slowly dragging itself forward to close off this nihilistic journey in a pace that makes you feel like life itself has been drained from your body and death slowly lulls you into its eternal sleep. It’s calm, bleak and beautiful. Guest performers on this track are Tiffany Ström on vocals and Sarah Tyler on Saxophone.
Disc two takes you on an ambient drone ride, that will take you places far away to bleak post-apocalyptic sceneries. "Ithaca" and "Symptoms Of Death" offers a sleepy jazzy feeling much due to the trumpet, played by John Scully. I have to say that I have grown quite fond of this track, much to my own surprise.
I've come across many tracks in my life I wished were longer and Sunwølf manages to get such a track on Beholden To Nothing And No One. "Lotus Island" being 5 minutes long, could have been longer, but sadly isn't. It is a droning spiritual voyage where the vibrating, humming calm of the instruments and Dominic Deane‘s chanting vocal automatically engulfs you and slows time down.
Beholden To Nothing And No One is a great trip to far away corners of a musical landscape, that is both beautifully ethereal, nihilistic bleak, deeply melancholic and at times claustrophobic unsettling, hard and raw. As opposed to their older releases I find this more experimental and offers more to discover for the listener. Enjoy!
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