“Farewell to the Sun” is the debut full-length album by Canadian metal group Vow of Thorns, and is an eclectic offering of various styles of metal. At its core, the release is driven by two complementary sounds: atmospheric black metal and doom metal. This means that much of the record is spent in slow or mid-paced territory, with the occasional moment when the band kicks the tempo up a little bit (with “Meeting on the Astral Plane” and “Doomed Woods” providing the two most prominent examples). The doom aspects of this record are a more difficult sell than the black metal ones (likely due to my general dislike of doom). “Farewell to the Sun” is at its best when there is depressing, emotive tremolo-picking, accompanied by spacious drumming that utilizes quarter-note crash cymbals. In other words, the key to their success comes from building truly atmospheric sections. It is easy to get lost in the music, largely because about half of these songs are incredibly long, and they tend to have lengthy instrumental sections.
As mentioned above, this release struggles to retain the listener’s interest when it approaches doom metal territory. The previously noted quarter-note crash cymbals will instead be accompanied by similarly slow power chords, which don’t serve to drive the music forward the same way that the tremolo picking does. Fortunately, these sections are not quite as common as the black metal sections. Additionally, Vow of Thorns utilizes the occasional clean guitar interlude, a sound that would be very familiar to fans of Insomnium. These interludes only serve to further the melancholic atmosphere of this release, and succeed in making this record an intense emotional experience.
One thing about this record that I’m torn on is the relative lack of vocals. Vow of Thorns’ singer has truly perfected the black metal rasp. His voice sounds tortured every single time he lets out a scream, and it is a perfect fit for the rest of the music. It is too bad that the band pursues lengthy instrumental passages, simply because he is so good. On the other hand, it is those same passages that make this such a captivating release. The record as a whole has a good balance between the two sounds, which is why it is difficult to ascertain which sound is better. In the end, both rule.
Despite the fact that this is such a passionate record, “Farewell to the Sun” works best as background music. Its approach is hypnotic at times, and it goes well with just about any activity. This might be my own preferences towards other more “in your face” styles of metal like thrash, power, or death, but Vow of Thorns’ melodic sound is likely to be more enjoyable when you are not scrutinizing every aspect of the music, and instead simply relaxing to its soothing sounds. Even the most aggressive of moments on this record are likely to unwind most individuals. Naming a specific favourite track would do a disservice to how well this record works as a unit. On the whole, “Farewell to the Sun” is a stunning display of how to write atmospheric black metal, with its only true fault being the occasional tendency towards less interesting doomy passages.
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All of it
4.1/5 or 82%.
Written by Scott