Sun of the Blind
Skullreader


4.5
superb

Review

by Frederick Metzengerstein USER (202 Reviews)
July 3rd, 2009 | 97 replies | 12,791 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Combining elements of shoegaze, dark ambient and psychedelic with atmospheric black metal, Sun Of The Blind delivers one of 2009's more creative metal records.

4 of 4 thought this review was well written

As a guitar player and vocalist for Darkspace, one of the more creative and unique bands to be found in the black metal genre, it came as a bit of a surprise to me when Zhaaral out of the blue formed a one man project called Sun Of The Blind. Even more surprising was the quality and strength of his debut record Skullreader. Glancing upon the swirling orange artwork I wasn’t sure what to expect, a droning aural assault akin to Darkspace or something completely different altogether. Well, I came to conclusion that Sun Of The Blind were a little bit of both. Far more accessible and expansive than Darkspace I plunged head on to the hypnotizing prowess of Sun Of The Blind. Opting for ambient black metal in the vein of his main band Darkspace with a little Kataxu and Burzum thrown in for good measure, Zhaaral cultivates the potent formula by integrating hefty influences of psychedelic, shoe gaze, and Katatonia-esque melancholy to craft one of the year’s finest black metal records if not the best.

The shoe gaze influence can be felt in the heavy distortion and reverb that effectively fattens up the guitar sound. There is a lot of fuzz yet the production is quite polished and accessible enough for the most skeptical of black metal listeners to enjoy. Skullreader much like Burzum’s Hvis Lyset Tar Oss and Kataxu’s Hunger Of Elements is heavily driven by ambient keyboards and pulsating synthesizers that transition from a wide variety of sounds and tones. Zhaaral’s comprehension for densely textured passages meld exceptionally well into the sporadically paced bouts of raw aggression. The melodic/heavy dynamic is executed extremely well in the album but especially on the opening 10 minute track Cursed Universe and the following one Lord Of Mind. Coming in at five songs with just about forty five minutes of material, Skullreader isn’t too much of a challenge for the casual black metal practitioner, especially when a quality album like this prides itself on variety and superior songwriting skills.

Guitar wise Sun Of The Blind differ from their brethren in terms of aggression, tempo, and purpose. Zhaaral’s goal is not to attack the listener with a barrage of hollowed out piercing riffage. It is also not his goal to haphazardly abuse the tremolo picking technique. Instead he incorporates a slow to mid tempo groove approach more akin to doom metal than black metal. The heavy distortion and reverb much less the synthesizers downplay the role of the guitar to provide catchy rhythms and head banging dirges. Nothing more nothing less. And that is the guitar’s strength. To subtly blend in with it’s environment without over exertion. B+

Although mostly an instrumental album, Skullreader contains your traditional black metal growl amongst a few other stylistic deliveries worthy of mention. Zhaaral’s growl for the most part is undecipherable yet aggressive nonetheless. The opening track “Cursed Universe” features some shaman-esque grunting before transitioning to harsh vocals. The song later converges again with clean male vocals echoing from a distance to close the song. Also worth mentioning is “Lord Of Mind” which unexpectedly and creatively uses operatic female vocals albeit briefly to deepen the already condensed atmosphere. A

The strength of the album unquestionably lies in the synth programming where psychedelic looping, haunting strings, and suffocating Middle Eastern influenced keyboard melodies successfully bind to the fuzzy atmosphere. Many bands are unable to work this instrument effectively, often rendering their music as cheesy (look at those pagan metal bands), contrived, and/or epic for all the wrong reasons. The electronic effects once blended with the lo fi production values and solid instrumentations makes for a hard to beat combination. A+

The bass is completely drowned out. I’m sorry I just had to say it out loud .The earthy rumbling I’m used to hearing in death metal is just not there, maybe because the album’s music is multi layered and the bass is tuned extremely low. Not surprising in the least to be honest but from the other spectrum of the rhythm section finds Zhaaral executing solid drumming patterns that flow nicely with the sloth like tempos. Repetition and simplicity are the tools of the trade here and he balances the heavy synth/guitar edge with a sufficient platform of mechanical bass kicks and snare hits. C

Overall fellow friends and wankers, Skullreader might be 2009’s greatest achievement in the black metal world. At least for the first half of the year because I find no apparent flaws with this dare I say it masterpiece. The structuring of passages and riffs are incredibly well handled. The synths are perfectly fitted to complement the guitars as well as adding an ethereal element to the subtle aggression. And closing off the album is the talented and intricate songwriting resulting in five stellar songs and one gem of an album. If you like shoe gaze, dark ambient, psychedelic, and black metal I see no reason why you shouldn’t check this out.



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user ratings (65)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Zoo
July 3rd 2009



3759 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Wow bro, that was quick. I guess this made quite the impression on you. Glad you liked it ;)

BallsToTheWall
July 3rd 2009



44164 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Shit is epic. I listened to this at least 6 times today. Awesome, awesome find broseph. i lost half my review to the storm taking out my power so eh, I dont think I did as well as I could have. Also, I checked out Lacus Somniorum. Elite ambient indeed. iF YOU HAVE ANY MORE RECCS, SEND THEM MY WAY.

Relinquished
July 3rd 2009



24472 Comments


That was a fucking crazy storm. I've always liked ambient when I was a kid. For the hell of it, I'm going check this out.

Zoo
July 3rd 2009



3759 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Enmerkar - Starlit Passage. It was on my last list of recs but hasn't gotten any attention. It's Egyptian-themed US dark ambient/black metal.

BallsToTheWall
July 3rd 2009



44164 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah it was. i'm just glad it didnt fuck up my weekly kayaking trip this morning. It's been raining all week. And yeah, get this like...NOW!!!!!!


15,600 COMMENTS WHOO. i WILL CHECK THEM OUT. yOU NEED TO MAKE A NEW LIST BROSEPH. yOUR SPUTNIK'S DARK INFORMER.

fireaboveicebelow
July 3rd 2009



6837 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

summary had me sold

TricksterGRex
July 3rd 2009



2087 Comments


Does it have that randomized synth that is oh so irritating on Darkspace records?

BallsToTheWall
July 3rd 2009



44164 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

There is a looming Darkspace influence. Still well worth a listen though.

TricksterGRex
July 3rd 2009



2087 Comments


Eh, I'll give it a listen. If I get bored, then I guess I get bored.

Saidir
July 3rd 2009



77 Comments


I trust my Balls.

jingledeath
July 3rd 2009



7104 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sounds awesome. will listen to this along side the new Shining record

TricksterGRex
July 3rd 2009



2087 Comments


Shit dude I didn't know Shining had a new record.

jrowa001
July 4th 2009



8750 Comments


i like the sound of this. will get it. ive kind of slipped a little bit away from the dark ambient type stuff and more into the electronic/ambient/glitch stuff. this might get me back into it

FistfulOfSteel
July 4th 2009



894 Comments


me want hear now.

jingledeath
July 4th 2009



7104 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

just listened to this and i've deduced that it's quite amazing

fireaboveicebelow
July 4th 2009



6837 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

BOOOOOOOOM is how this sounds

Zip
July 4th 2009



5312 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This sounds awesome.

Wizard
July 4th 2009



19240 Comments


Really good format for this review Balls. I enjoyed the graded breakdown.

Must order this now.

Digging: Cloak of Altering - Plague Beasts

Yazz_Flute
July 4th 2009



18764 Comments


Is that a penis in the album cover?

And i'll check this out a-sap.

Digging: Cormorant - Dwellings

fireaboveicebelow
July 5th 2009



6837 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

it looks like a red version of the Cure album Faith actually



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