When I think of Sweden, and some of the music I really enjoy, bands such as At The Gates, Katatonia, and especially Entombed come to mind. Heavy, yet versatile in their scope, that sitting in one sub-genre isn’t an option. With the exception of Entombed, who have remained crushingly heavy for the entirety of their career, the vast majority of the heavier Swedish bands have diversified, and taken on other elements, to add further depth and vison to their music. This outlook seems to do them justice, and it’s left me wondering at times, whether this is particularly an aging thing, or maybe something more cultural that’s been going on in Sweden.
Well, upon hearing the Sleep Moscow album, Of The Sun, it’s clear that there is definitely something going on in Sweden as their music is mature, and quite nostalgic, bringing elements to their sound that’s timeless and retro, yet fresh and new, at exactly the same time.
Of The Sun is a work of depth and scope that I believe, within the next decade, will probably be impossible to pinpoint when it was constructed, yet it will mark the dawning of a whole new dynamic in music entirely. The album isn’t overly heavy, at all. It isn’t abrasive either. It isn’t a barrage of guitars and drums, with visceral vocal, melting your face off every time you run it through your speakers.
What, Of The Sun is, is a perfect musical moment. Its beauty is truly overwhelming at times. And its poignancy warms the soul. There is a mix of heavenly vocal, soft piano, electronic noises, and completely absorbing string instrument performances, that will genuinely melt you into nothingness. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any upbeat, more intense passage either, there are moments of intense sonic reverberation, which will have you on the edge of your seat.
Over the course of the nine-track opus, it twists and turns, and just when you think you have things worked out, it steps in to trip you up. It sounds, and feels, somewhat like the soundtrack to some otherworldly soviet television series set in the eighties, like an early Russian incarnation of The X-Files perhaps. It definitely has a television or movie soundtrack feel to it.
The thing that really stuck me about this album was how much I liked it, and how compelled I was to replay it over and over again. It wasn’t my usual nightly soundtrack, which mostly fares between sludgy doomy tones, and ethereal ambience, but actually it has created a whole new experience entirely.
a mix of heavenly vocal, soft piano, electronic noises, and completely absorbing string instrument performances, that will genuinely melt you into nothingness…
After hearing lead track Light Will Meet Us, getting the opportunity to hear the whole album, and have a chance to review it, was something I was really excited to do. I’ve attacked it with a certain amount of trepidation though. I didn’t want to oversell it; in the same way I didn’t want to underplay how great it is either.
I could go on about each track, but I feel that would somewhat ruin the response you, as a listener, will get, if you take the plunge, and invest in this album. For me, it’s a revelation. It’s neither too much, nor too little. If you are willing to immerse yourself, you wont even notice what it is you’re listening to, because the whole experience will take you away from any thoughts of what is, or isn’t, in the mix, just the beauty of the art.
That being said, I would like to draw some attention to a couple of tracks, which are actually at completely opposite ends of the spectrum, even for this album.
Light Will Meet Us is a sublimely curious tune. It starts in a dark and foreboding manner, yet by the chorus passage, its reminiscent of the Arctic Monkeys track Do I Wanna Know?, so much so, that I had to ask a friend what it reminded them of, and she spotted it as the same track as I. Thankfully she put a name to the track, as I couldn’t place its title, only the melody and mood. There’s a real richness to the track, its soulful and deep, without sacrificing any of the intensity along the way.
In contrast, Alone, is absolutely overwhelming in its subtle beauty. A delicately somber piano opening, and the gradual string instrument accompaniment, lay the groundwork for a second half of serene vocal. Completely spellbinding. It leaves me breathless for a second.
And that’s the best thing about this album, it takes you away… Ultimately, Of The Sun won’t be for everyone, but that’s completely irrelevant, because those who do take the chance will be richly rewarded, deep within themselves, and will want to hold this album close to their hearts for a very long time to come.
Scribed by: Lee Beamish