Sojourner
Empires of Ash


4.0
excellent

Review

by Gameofmetal EMERITUS
July 22nd, 2016 | 76 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Onwards to eternity we send them off, into the hands of the gods.

Plenty has been said about the ability of music to take us to other places, to reveal worlds we haven’t yet experienced or that have passed us by already, but I would think most of us can identify one particular style that we look to for the very pursuit. Personally speaking, I know the magical, frostbitten snowstorms Paysage d’Hiver can conjure and occasionally I crave the sweltering swamp heat Baton Rouge’s Thou was birthed in. However, it’s the medieval synth melodies of Summoning and Caladan Brood that do something extra special for me. It’s easy to see why considering how much of my life has been spent worshiping first the Lord of the Rings, George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, and more recently Steve Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen saga. It’s illustrated boldly across their album covers what these bands want you to visualize, and while some artists don’t pull it off convincingly enough to drag you into their vision, the aforementioned are prime examples of musicians who can.

Summoning and Caladan Brood are good enough to keep us company for a long while, but quality black metal of this kind isn’t the most populous. Elffor is okay, Emyn Muil almost works, Utstott falls just short, and that magic I’m talking about is either a weakened shell of itself or missing altogether. But Sojourner has it for me, that atmosphere that pulls me away for a small precious bit of time. Empires of Ash is as grandiose and sweeping as I wanted it to be, without copying Summoning too closely for comfort. That’s not to insinuate that it reaches the height of Summoning or Caladan Brood either, because it doesn’t. It doesn’t have the same grace, nor songwriting, but what is here is fantastic in its own right. Opener “Bound By Blood” has a lot of notable lead work contained within a very concise runtime, and “Heritage of The Natural Realm” encompasses all of Sojourner’s hallmarks: all hypnotic, melodious guitars, airy synths, and a mix of harsh screams with womanly crooning. The pairing of “The Pale Host” and “Homeward" is the highlight here, the former mostly consisting of soft pianos and guitars under Chloe Bray’s lovely vocals to segue carefully into “Homeward”. “Homeward” itself is just about the best track not written by Summoning or Caladan Brood, and I’ll leave it at that.

Empires of Ash feels like the stepping stone that may or may not be needed for this style of music. It’s a little more accessible by having less repetitious songs and varied instrumentation, and doesn’t have a fetish for 12-15 minute songs. But again, its gateway accessibility isn’t the most vital thing in retrospect. The sound itself is a melodic one full of shimmering synths, lacking most of the abrasive qualities black metal was built on. Sojourner’s accessibility mostly just ends up making Empires of Ash easier as a token recommendation rather than an important record that would lead new listeners to the actual masters of the style. That aside, it does capture a special something its influences had that really makes Empires of Ash worth a listen, and for what it’s worth, I think Sojourner does those forebears proud.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Gameofmetal
Emeritus
July 21st 2016


10612 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

Been awhile, but feels fuckin good to write something again



https://sojournermetal.bandcamp.com/album/empires-of-ash

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
July 21st 2016


9989 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review man. The guitar melodies on these are definitely solid.

Digging: WRVTH - No Rising Sun

Jacquibim
Staff Reviewer
July 21st 2016


3462 Comments


You spend too much time talking about Summoning and Caladan Brood, here, and some of your phrasing reads kinda awkwardly IMO.

"There’s been plenty said" would be better as "Plenty has been said" for one. You also need to add a comma between "magical" and "frostbitten" in the second sentence. Speaking of which, the second sentence is a bit of a run-on and could use some trimming, but splitting it in two with a full-stop after "birthed in" would do the trick.

"It’s easy to see why considering how much of my life has been spent worshiping the* first Lord of the Rings, [remove "then"] George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, and more recently Steve Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen saga."

The first part of the intro's final sentence could be changed to "It's illustrated by their album covers what these bands want you to visualise", because you've already described it in detail.

"Here's where Sojourner comes in." -- I would probably drop this or work it into the second paragraph so it directly precedes the point at which you begin to describe Sojourner's music. As it is now, it's a little confusing because you jump straight back into talking about Summoning and Cadadan Brood and a couple other bands.

"ok" should either be in capitals or in it's proper form, "okay". You should also drop the first "and" in that same sentence.

Jacquibim
Staff Reviewer
July 21st 2016


3462 Comments


"Empires of Ash is as grandiose and sweeping as I wanted it to be, without copying Summoning too closely for comfort. That’s not to insinuate that it reaches the height of Summoning or Caladan Brood either, because it doesn’t." -- These sentences kinda nullify the praise you're trying to give the band, because by now I'm convinced they sound a lot like their idols, but you follow the first paragraph and a bit by saying they're sort of doing their own thing but it's not as good anyway.

"“Heritage of The Natural Realm” encases everything Sojourner does across its length" -- You can probably cut this down by saying "encases all of Sojourner's hallmarks", and if you replace that final comma with a colon, you can avoid the sentence feeling like another run on. Also, you need another quotation mark at the end of "Homeward".

In the conclusion's second sentence, I'd replace "in its" with "by having", but that's a minor qualm. I'd drop the bit you have in parentheses because clarifying that sort of thing really isn't necessary.

"Sojourner’s accessibility mostly just ends up making Empires of Ash easier as a token recommendation rather than an important record that would lead new listeners to the actual masters of the style." -- Not really a quality of an "excellent" record, do you think?

"it does capture an essence for itself" what is these words?!!?

Mindpos because I feel like a dick now. Good to see you writing again Game < 3

ScuroFantasma
Staff Reviewer
July 21st 2016


11725 Comments


Great review, this looks excellent, I love these kind of epic tales told through music, definitley going to give this a go when I have some time.

Digging: Stahlmann - Bastard

Rastapunk
July 22nd 2016


1353 Comments


Review is very personal, maybe too much IMO but all in all it's a good read!

Would pos if I could :P

Avagantamos
July 22nd 2016


6618 Comments


cool album art

DungeonBoy
July 22nd 2016


6436 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great album and review. This album isn't the most original listen ever but it definitely hits a sweet spot for anyone looking for some solid folk metal.

Digging: Guild Of Lore - Storm Haven

PortalofPerfection
July 22nd 2016


1991 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

^^^Agree with this 100%.



This does a great job of whisking me off to lands of wizards and dragons, epic battles and a long journey home.

zaruyache
July 22nd 2016


21225 Comments


Wooo this album! It's pretty good, glad it got a review. Pos'd.

Rikkukun
August 10th 2016


176 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

My god Homeward is so good

Dmax28
September 3rd 2016


602 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Homeward and Trails of the Earth really tug at the heart strings.

CaptainDooRight
September 7th 2016


4093 Comments


listening now

Digging: Joni Mitchell - Song to a Seagull

DungeonBoy
September 7th 2016


6436 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I enjoyed this album but my interest was fleeting.

CaptainDooRight
September 7th 2016


4093 Comments


pretty good so far actually


CaptainDooRight
September 7th 2016


4093 Comments


first quarter was good but the rest kinda sucked

Gameofmetal
Emeritus
September 7th 2016


10612 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

homeward is the best track here tho

BallsToTheWall
September 7th 2016


49716 Comments


Fun album.

Digging: Black Sabbath - Headless Cross

Dmax28
October 4th 2016


602 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Idk guys. My favorite here has to be Trails of the Earth. Love that main melody and the higher energy of the track. Homeward is my second favorite.

AdolfChrist
February 28th 2017


22007 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this is good. im craving this kind of black metal right now.

Digging: Cerebral Rot - Odious Descent Into Decay



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