Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sans Soleil:"A Holy Land Beneath a Godless Sky"

Beautifully mournful in it's melancholy, my first impression of this band was that they bordered on funereal doom. This Texas band carries you off into a four song excursion  that flows like an  ocean of tranquil despair.The narrative voice of the album is a viola that drips off  of the riffs.
If you were  digest this album as if it were  a strictly a metal affair, you might notice that the void left by the absent vocals. The  arrangements keep this missing component well hidden. If this was funereal doom band the guttural gravel of phlegm drenched vocal chords would actually be another layer to the bottom end. The viola instead of trying to replace the vocals occupies that space the lead guitar melody would sit in. The spacious sound could edge this towards being post-rock, as an instrumental project they ravish a similar sonic sphere as Godspeedyoublackemperor. As the aural journey progresses  their trip takes a  darker turn. The bass player drifts  into a stoned jam of his own wandering around under the guitar solo, that rips like 70's freedom rock,

"An Unbral"  find the pace pick up from the sluggish psychedelics as the drugs begin to wear off. This is one of those bands I hear and think "Where were these guys when I was getting high?" The somber throb of "Across Distant Sands" leaves plenty of room for the lamentations of the viola. The guitars  provide a counterpoint to the viola in a more angular fashion than a doom band might employ. The band taps into some very transcendental vibrations in the more introspective passages. Even at the languid tempo this album tends to perpetuate, the hypnotic undercurrent reminds me of the last  Serpentine Path album. Like that album this too could have the soundtrack to Only Lovers Left Alive, even with the sweeping waterfalls of tears some of these melodies invoke.

The almost eleven minute four act, spills out of the previous song. Almost to the point on first listen you might assume "Across the Distant Sands"  just wanders off and hypnotizes itself. The drums do build into more of a harder rock pound, that borders sludge. The pace actually becomes pretty frantic the song's final few minutes. Still it sounds like the drummer took a hit of meth while the rest of the band is moving smoothly on their own drug clouds.

The sense movement this album holds is enough to to keep me engaged since I prefer more vocal centric offerings. This album taps into similar emotions  as doom without being metal. The shadows their sounds casts creates a heavy atmosphere, but even in the height of their most Black Sabbath jamming, there is not aggression. Doom like goth doesn't rely on aggression, but despondency. They are more doom than most of what you here labelled as "doom-folk", but metal heads will need to have broadened horizons to embrace this album. I'll give it an 8.5, I enjoy it when I listen to and while it makes for great background music while I am writing, it's not something I see myself needing to have on my iPod, which is the great test for an album...can I leave home without it.

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