Kauan
Sorni Nai


4.5
superb

Review

by Kyle Ward EMERITUS
October 18th, 2015 | 220 replies


Release Date: 10/20/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A story worth telling

Sometime during the overnight hours of February 2, 1959, nine people were killed as they trekked across the eastern side of Kholat Syakhl in Russia’s Ural Mountains. The hikers, at some point during the night, inexplicably tore out of their tents and fled their campsite, vanishing into the heavy snowfall to meet their imminent deaths. It is a mystery that is among the more bizarre untold stories of the world, but often it is the stories where the mind is left to fill in the blanks that offer the most intrigue. Kauan, a doom metal/post-rock outfit from Chelyabinsk, Russia intends to fill the gaps that perplexed investigators with their own creative flair. For a band that is known for crafting delicate yet vast soundscapes, this is itself a jarring turn towards the macabre, yet it remains aptly fitting given their penchant for storytelling.

Anyone who listened to Pirut knows that Kauan are more about the journey rather than the destination, and that really is what makes this concept album work so well. We know the ending, and know just how ghastly it really is, but no one knows for sure the horrors that led up to that ending. None of the bodies revealed any signs of a struggle, yet two of the victims had broken ribs and fractured skulls, one had major chest fractures, and one was missing her tongue. Many were barefoot when they died, and grossly under-clothed for the harsh Russian winter that they fled in to the night they were killed. It is a morbid coincidence, then, that Kholat Syakhl is a transliteration of the local name meaning “Dead Mountain”. What is interesting to note, though, in Kauan’s 52-minute Sorni Nai is that the music is not always as morose as the subject matter would lead you to believe. The operatic nature of the compositions weave between long stretches of instrumental flourishing, caving on occasion for dirges of melancholy clean singing that dominates the vocal landscape.

That’s not to say the record relies on a folk-tinged post-rock atmosphere to carry such a heavy tale. Brief as they may be, there are moments of heavy electric guitar and sporadic rasps as harsh vocals carry the story’s traumatic underpinnings. It was, after all, a group of young students who lost their lives that night, and the way Sorni Nai carries itself from serene beginnings through majestic highs and finally into dejected, crushing doom shows that this story, like many great tragedies, has happiness and life in abundance before the final collapse. The moods are in constant motion as the guitars craft melodies and the synths weave in dense atmosphere. Building orchestras clash against swelling keys; acoustic guitars dance amidst soaring electric melodies. Using the dichotomy between the deep, comforting cleans and monumentally crushing guitars Sorni Nai creates vivid color where lesser bands would otherwise muddle in different shades of grey, and while the record peaks in a crescendo that is as dark and mysterious as the concept itself, the band do not make that the defining point of the album.

To me, Sorni Nai is not so much about the brutal deaths of the poor young hikers as it is about the sheer force of nature, the daunting ways in which it can show its wrath, and just how much we are at its mercy. After the corpses were unearthed – a process which took months as they were buried under meters of snow – the Soviets determined that the deaths were caused by an “unknown compelling force”. There are theories about the causes of death to include extraterrestrial life and military accidents, but the most plausible – and perhaps most frightening – is that the camp was taken by avalanche. With just enough warning to flee blindly into a snowstorm, the group likely burst from their tents to avoid a coming avalanche, with no time to know where they were even running to, let alone have the time to properly dress to avoid their ultimate succumbing to hypothermia. Sorni Nai is simultaneously the personification of human helplessness in the face of the unknown and the soundtrack of a baffling mystery. Most of all, though, the record is a tragedy that is brought to life to make you feel the harrowing emotions that the tale invokes. A lot of what Kauan have done in the past can be best described as evocative, but the storytelling displayed on Sorni Nai is on another level entirely, bringing the unknown to life before our eyes.



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user ratings (288)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Crysis
Emeritus
October 17th 2015


17288 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is their best album, and I loved Pirut. The incredibly compelling story coupled with how well they realized it puts this ahead decidedly. Anyone looking for something different should check this, as I can see it appealing to a very wide audience. It sounds almost like a soundtrack.



Buy it here http://blood-music.bandcamp.com/album/sorni-nai

MistaCrave
October 18th 2015


2475 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good to see a Crysis review again. Awesome write up. I loved Pirut, so I'm gonna jam this ASAP. m/ m/ m/

Crysis
Emeritus
October 18th 2015


17288 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks man, I've been busy with real life for most of this year so I've been scarce. Having a hard time keeping up with new releases.



If you liked Pirut there's no reason you'll not love this. Their style is so cinematic, it's really quite unlike anything else I've heard.

MistaCrave
October 18th 2015


2475 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Well, you haven't been missing much haha. This year hasn't been great for metal.



About halfway through this album. I don't like it quite as much as Pirut so far, but it's amazing nonetheless.

zaruyache
October 18th 2015


17895 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

RuElZ

brainmelter
October 18th 2015


4565 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

so bad ass, love the concept

Digging: Infester - To the Depths... In Degradation

ComeToDaddy
October 18th 2015


1611 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sounds fantastic, Pirut is really great so I'm looking forward to this

RustCohle
October 18th 2015


193 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This band delivers for almost a decade, nice review and yes this should appeal to a wide audience.

Digging: Amenra - Mass VI

Archelirion
Contributing Reviewer
October 18th 2015


5446 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

These guys are so productive yet it's pretty much all fantastic stuff, including this. Your write-up really helps me appreciate this album that much more, great stuff. I didn't realise they were Russian, cos everything is in Finnish I just assumed that they hailed from Finland.



CalculatingInfinity
October 18th 2015


7577 Comments


This looks awesome, bookmarked.

Crysis
Emeritus
October 18th 2015


17288 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I didn't realise they were Russian, cos everything is in Finnish I just assumed that they hailed from Finland.




Only Tietäjän Laulu has Russian lyrics, everything else is in Finnish.

Atari
Staff Reviewer
October 18th 2015


22699 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fantastic review Kyle, and really intriguing concept. Listening to Pirut first to get better acquainted with their sound and it's pretty stunning so far.

Digging: Langhorne Slim - Lost At Last, Vol 1

LifeFeedsOnLife
October 18th 2015


461 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Well, it's certainly 'louder' than Pirut.. Still can't decide if that's a good thing or not. Either way this is pre great.

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
October 18th 2015


16765 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review, I'll have to check this out soon.

Digging: Tame Impala - Currents B-Sides & Remixes

TheBarber
October 18th 2015


3576 Comments


Fucking fab review

Digging: Mamaleek - Via Dolorosa

Jom
Staff Reviewer
October 18th 2015


2991 Comments


Hi there. Welcome back! Have to check because you're always A+ at getting me to listen to something new just in time for the year-end festivities.

Crysis
Emeritus
October 18th 2015


17288 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah Jom sorry about the radio silence for several months, hoping to kick it into gear a bit more as year end approaches.



You'd probably really enjoy this.

DarkNoctus
October 18th 2015


10068 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

from back to back this album is better written than pirut, but i think some of the moments in pirut are just more stunning overall which gives me a stronger emotional connection to it. i think it's probably just a case of me requiring more time with this one to connect to it in the same way.



even without that, though, this album is so fantastically written, haven't stopped listening to it since it started streaming

Poet
October 19th 2015


6003 Comments


After reading this review and having starting to listen to the first few minutes of this album I can already tell I am going like the whole thing.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
October 19th 2015


32190 Comments


Need to check this



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