|Artwork by Ch. Duis|
I believe it no coincidence that Below the Sun takes its namesake from Funeral Doom masters "Ahab". Though the vast and untamed oceans may have been their frontier of musical exploration, Below the Sun opens up a new one by setting its sights on the dark matter above. Envoy is a lonely, interstellar journey through space told from the eyes of NASA spacecraft Voyager 1.
"Outward the Sky" offers up a mighty intro and rightly sets the tone for the album. Huge, crunchy rhythm guitars plod along at a steady but unstoppable pace. Reverb and delay-heavy leads and ebows help create the perfect atmosphere to ponder the great infinite beyond our little blue dot. It’s the closest track to come across as victorious, if a bit foreboding.
However, it is the second track that really grabbed my attention. The intro is both memorable and highly evocative, as is much of the rest of this 8-minute journey. "Cries of Dying Stars" is completely instrumental but grips you from start to finish. If dying stars could indeed lament, this would surely be their final song.
The rest of the album continues on in this way, crushing you with the ever growing darkness and sorrow each step of the way, culminating with the 15-minute climax of "Drift in Deep Space". Our spacecraft’s systems are failing and unstable. Help is never coming and there is no turning back; all hope seems lost. All of this comes full circle with album closer "The Earth", ending with a rather bittersweet atmosphere. I find it interesting that this closing moment is among my favorites on the album.
Much of this album is instrumental and the vocal parts are sparse but superbly executed. There’s just as much doom to love here as there is post-metal. Is there anything in their sound that’s particularly new? Honestly no, but that fact pales in comparison to the near-perfect execution and production of Envoy and its overarching theme. The members of the band remain a mystery hidden behind various aliases, but if I were a betting man I would be unsurprised if these artists and songwriters had a few albums under their belts already. This debut is just too good to pass up and Below the Sun is a band worth watching.
For fans of: Ahab, Cult of Luna, Isis
Note: CDs are available from Temple of Torturous.