Of Solitude and Solemn
Starlight's Guide


3.5
great

Review

by Micah-Nahum Ferguson. USER (22 Reviews)
January 12th, 2014 | 17 replies | 1,128 views


Release Date: 01/03/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Don't leave me...

3 of 3 thought this review was well written

If there is one thing that plagues too much post-black metal today, it is sensationalism. Too many artists in this niche of music focus more on feelings rather than restraint. Some master the fragile balance that lies between the emotion that lies in post-rock and the primal carnage of black metal to create a beautiful beast that takes great influence from both without becoming too saturated with either side. Of Solitude and Solemn's lone member Joe Hawker often revels in that very achievement with his latest offering, "Starlight's Guide."

The album starts with a bang of echoing drums and synth loops, slowly ushering in a soft guitar arpeggios, then finally a soaring tremolo-picked guitar lead. The rest of the album follows this same sentiment; phrases beautifully give way to new ones, and usually quite seamlessly without losing steam. "Illuminance" captures the finesse of the likes of Agalloch with its strong, folk-based melodies and thundering percussion.

Hawker's vocals, both clean and harsh, exude a strong sense of emotion that can sometimes be overbearing when paired with such lilting music, but they shine through in other moments, such as in the album's centerpiece (and finest moment), "Guiding Light." The second track picks up grandly in the midsection after a doom-influence intro that may outstay its welcome, but the climax pays off. The entire middle of this song is a hazy crescendo bursting at the seams with emotion. At the apex of the swell, Hawker yells, "Are you home? Is this light yours? Why is it fading? Don't leave me..." giving the song a very spiritual and existential feel to it. The climax dies to usher in an orchestral melody to close the track out on a reflective note.

"Memories In the Mist" carries the same passion, and even while devoid of lyrics, this instrumental track reflects all the ground that was tread throughout the album before gracefully, even though it is very predictable and is certainly the weakest of all the tracks.

Hawker's diverse ideas and moods all play a part in this album, though the execution is far from perfect. The production, though ambitious, does not quite suit the music at all times. In fact, it usually does not. The mixing and quality of the overall product do not provide much nuance to be hidden beneath the treble-heavy exterior of the album. This problem is most evident in the layered guitars and electronic drums far too high in the mix. Though the music may be very well composed altogether, the way in which it is presented may be a bit sub-par if one tries to listen closely. Despite the flaws and holes in the album, its emotion still shines through in a way that is rarely hampered by unnecessary fluff. On Hawker's previous self-titled effort, his musicianship created a more solid coalition of forces, and this follow-up does not entirely abandon the standards set previously. It both improves upon some and skimps on others. Its tone is even very different; the self-titled was more, pardon the pun, solemn, whereas this release is quite the opposite: it is more uplifting. With the differences and minor hang-ups aside, "Starlight's Guide" a great sophomore release that showcases Hawker's intense emotion and talent without giving into absolute tear-inducing drama.



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user ratings (16)
Chart.
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
Robert Garland CONTRIBUTOR (3.5)
The misty moors and barren fields leave you with but one guideā€¦...

related reviews

Of Solitude and Solemn

Comments:Add a Comment 
SadAndHolyGlow
January 11th 2014



1517 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Joe Hawker is on Sputnikmusic at: sputnikmusic.com/user/DarkNoctus

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
January 11th 2014



18343 Comments




Digging: Shed - Shot Selection

SadAndHolyGlow
January 11th 2014



1517 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I disagree. Like, WAY disagree.

DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
January 11th 2014



8781 Comments


plus for someone who bitches all the time about irrelevant production details it sounds like shit too


the rest of your criticisms are personal taste, no arguments there, but remember this is coming from a bedroom with terrible equipment because i really can't afford any better. i'm just a guy making tunes in my tiny bedroom. but thanks for giving it a listen anyhow, i do appreciate you giving it a try regardless!

and thanks so much for the review sadandholyglow, i'm really humbled!

Vakarian12
January 11th 2014



3758 Comments


good review, first one was cool so will check this out



Digging: Sepultura - Arise

SadAndHolyGlow
January 11th 2014



1517 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

@DarkNoctus: No problem, man.
@Vakarian12: SWAG

Hyperion1001
Staff Reviewer
January 12th 2014



18343 Comments




DarkNoctus
Contributing Reviewer
January 12th 2014



8781 Comments


well thanks for giving it a shot anyway, i know this isn't everyone's thing

also weirdly enough i love how the production turned out on this. i have a complicated relationship with this ep - it wasn't planned at all, just one of those things that happened so i just released it, warts and all. the rest of the osas stuff is way more like the first demo (but recorded better and just... well, better) and this one is just weird, even for me. but i'm just really fond of it.

RogueNine
January 12th 2014



1236 Comments


This is Noctus? Sweet!

bakkermaarten007
January 12th 2014



3422 Comments


I will check this out. Cool picture of you Noctus.

osmark86
January 12th 2014



3963 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I really dug this album personally. well done noctus.

Digging: Schammasch - Contradiction

zaruyache
January 12th 2014



6287 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

What'd that person criticize about the production? Aside from the obvious programmed drums I don't think it sounds bad at all. It's not the most organic thing I've ever heard, but it definitely doesn't sound bad for a bedroom band. I've heard (and enjoyed) bedroom BM with way worse guitar sounds than this.

Digging: CHVRCHES - The Bones of What You Believe

CaptainDooRight
January 12th 2014



28864 Comments


bedroom production > all else

SadAndHolyGlow
January 13th 2014



1517 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

That's the trvth. *wink*

osmark86
January 13th 2014



3963 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

agreed. bedroom production slays.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
January 13th 2014



10080 Comments


Hyperion says so much by saying so little

Digging: The Contortionist - Language

zaruyache
January 14th 2014



6287 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off




hey look i can do it too kawaii



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