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Sol - Where Suns Come To Die

Where Suns Come To Die is the latest release from Sol, a project active since 2004. I must confess I had never heard of Sol and thought this must be some sort of neo-folk project quite taken by Tony Wakeford's pioneering dark folk group Sol Invictus. However, a quick scan on Google showed that Sol lead by Emil Brahe are - or at least were - a Danish doom band. Each release from Sol appears to take on different atmospheres and forms that range from doom metal to acoustic drones over dark reed organ atmospherics and occult folk music. Released on Cold Spring Records, Where Suns Come To Die leans heavily on the dark reed organ atmospherics, and in many ways it shares a musical kinship with Attrition and Anni Hogan's Millions of the Mouthless Dead, which we reviewed recently, in its churning bleak atmosphere and spoken narrative. While the Attrition album focussed on the fallen and afflicted in the Great War, Where Suns Come To Die concerns itself with lost ideals and the end of life itself. A sense of pathos pervades both albums, with the Attrition recording offering more light to the darker musical strokes.

On the surface Where Suns Come To Die is comprised of four tracks of glum, gloomy atmospherics with spoken narrative from Thomas Bøjden of Die Weisse Rose. However, repeated and deeper listening reveals this to be a meditation on ageing, the loss of hopes and dreams and the inevitable onslaught of death.

The passing of life features heavily in Emil Brahe's lyrics here read by Thomas Bøjden in unwavering heavyset tones on 'This Bitter Earth'. Slowly he speaks of lost ideals and beliefs, crushed by life's unflinching onward march, over ominous drones and harmonious atmospherics, which with a thunderous crash is lead into passages of nostalgic piano chords and organ driven churn. The final lines - "And there is no comfort, and this bitter Earth" - read like a portent for life itself before the track exits on an impressive extended section of thick reedy orchestration and scraping violin score.

Sampled classical songs are woven into the fabric of Where Suns Come To Die, and it is most noticeable in the symphonic 'I Surrender To The Soil' where churning orchestrations and bleating horns, give way to wafting gloomy atmospherics and the soft, hesitant tones of the narrator, accentuating the bleakness with lyrics such as "And though nothing remains of my pride, and dusk has claimed my judgement, I shiver in moonlight and greet the death of everything". With life ebbing, it appears the protagonist has succumbed, letting go of their reality to assume another. Against looped poignant horns, he repeats, in a death mantra like fashion, "I surrender to the soil" with drones drenched in discordant tones. As bleak as Where Suns Come To Die is, there is a profound sense of hope found within 'Hymn'. Against textured crackles and nagging harmonium drone, Bøjden in reflective tones speaks of the beauty to be found in the sun rising, clouds rejoicing and grand horizons. That heartfelt optimism is captured musically in the dreamy layers of ethereal choirs. It is however an optimism that isn't destined to last: "Don't let this moment pass", echoes Bøjden in vain hope.

A sense of vague nostalgia is captured, once again, in the final piece 'The Grinding Wheels Of Time'; a liminal composition of breezy harmonium drone and mellow wheeze of the viola. While the music lilts woozily, the hesitant delivery of Thomas Bøjden begrudgingly accepts imminent death, as the music slips effortlessly into light solemn atmospherics. It all culminates in the last passage ending on the defiant words "for another goddamn infinity, of longing for a peace of mind, that never comes", before the music ebbs out on the faint strains of an age old folk ballad.

The narration on Where Suns Come To Die is solemn and adequately conveys the sense of life passing and even though the whole thing is evocative and effective in its intent, in four tracks on an album that lasts just 36 minutes the default setting is hardwired to glum atmospherics. I do wonder how this would have sounded without the narration, as even without the vocals there's no escaping the despondency and despair in Emil Brahe's gloomy, nostalgic compositions for Sol. Even a longer release would have allowed Sol to develop the theme further. It's not a bad album, but let's hope that Sol's next release on Cold Spring is more rounded and complete. Like life itself, Where Suns Come To Die promises much more than it can deliver. For more information go to Cold Spring