Suldusk
Anthesis


4.3
superb

Review

by Dewinged STAFF
March 7th, 2024 | 43 replies


Release Date: 03/01/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Best of Australian summer blizzard folk.

Emily Highfield started Suldusk in 2016 with three acoustic pieces thrown into Bandcamp as, I suppose, an emotional output for her artistic urges. Two things were clear from those three tracks. First: that her voice was a gift from the gods that she was kind enough to share with the rest of us, mortals, and second: that she was also cautiously trying to see if she could break that voice screaming like a witch having her flesh scorched on a cross by the purifying fires of righteous justice because... why not? A couple of years passed and Suldusk’s first album, Lunar Falls, was granted to us. I assume the gods considered us worth saving and again decided we deserved to be treated to her wistful and mesmerizing singing. Thank you, gods.

The growth of Suldusk as a project and of Emily as a performer and songwriter was significant. Drums, distortion, and a whole array of carefully designed arrangements were incorporated into the mix. This was not the sound of a bedroom singer songwriter anymore. Her shrieks were even grittier, and her melodic voice had way more body and texture. Suldusk style had evolved into a gloom brand of folk that occasionally exploded into black metal, but Emily’s acoustic compositions prevailed as the main theme. The album was released through German label Northern Silence, and it immediately put the project in the eye of the storm created by artists like Myrkur. It was a fresh take on neofolk that wasn’t scared of playing with virulent explosions of black metal to create an enticing dichotomy of beauty and horror, but the project’s evolution wouldn’t end just there, as in that year Suldusk became a full-fledged band with several members joining Emily on her endeavors.

Emily and the crew have taken their time but Anthesis, just released through Napalm Records, which already signals a considerable step up in their game, proves that the strength of this union has been extremely fruitful, and Suldusk has crafted and album that finds a balance that many bands in their same field have been struggling to find for a long time. For me, the most immediate improvement is easily felt on the acoustic tracks of Suldusk’s third release. “Sphaera”, “Mythical Creatures” and “Crowns of Esper” are some of the songs built on a purely dark neofolk structure that showcases Emily’s vastly improved singing and Shane Mullholland and Josh Taylor’s invaluable contribution on guitars and backing vocals. Violinist Hayley Anderson has also become a core member of this project. Her subtle but effective touches, phasing in and out as the song requires or even taking the spotlight in some sections, like at the end of the ravishing “Leven”, elevate the music of Suldusk greatly and contribute to create a much richer atmosphere when compared to the songs in the bands’ previous release.

Some of you would probably like to know if the metal is still there too and the short answer is yes. There are generous flurries of black metal in which Emily sounds like a dragon devouring the wind, Frankie Demuru’s blast beats fall on you like a rain of stones and the earth-shattering riffs commanded by bass general Daniel Green feel like the world is going to end at any second. It’s a whole package. But I’ll add even more: The intensity of the sucker punch that is “Verdalet” after you’re allured to this album by the brief magic of “Astraeus” made me jolt in my seat, causing my coffee to fly across the room, and seven full album plays later I’m still cleaning coffee stains from the carpet. The proportion of black metal vs folk is similar to that of Lunar Falls, something like three spoons of folk and a spill of black metal kind of deal, but several songs blur this distinction. The title track and the fantastic closer, which features a blood-boiler performance by internationally renowned cellist Raphael Weinroth-Browne (Leprous, countless others), are some good examples of how cohesive and well-crafted this album is. The way the harsh sections flow into the acoustic parts and vice versa shows that there has been a lot of thought put into how to make the songs blend into each other naturally instead of stitching them together without rhyme and reason, and it’s guaranteed to keep you engaged for the entirety of the sensational journey that is Anthesis.

With this new release, Suldusk has gone above and beyond the three little songs that were timidly put out in the wild seven years ago. Time has treated this project very well, and the gang’s efforts have clearly resulted in one of the best atmospheric folk and melodic black metal releases of the year so far. Normally I would say that I’m curious to see what Suldusk’s future looks like but considering how far they have come with only two records, I’m certain we’re witnessing the eclosion of a majestic creature in real time. Now, if you’ll excuse me, these coffee stains are not going to clear by themselves so go listen to this beauty while I scratch the carpet like Raphael shredding his cello.




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user ratings (33)
3.7
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
March 7th 2024


32043 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Will add recs and videos later but for now, if you haven't heard this, and you like folk, and bm and just good music in general, listen to this.



Big thanks to Ectier and Emily for clearing out some lore doubts I had.



Enjoy the album!

Hawks
March 7th 2024


87993 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Gonna jam tonight!

Ectier
March 7th 2024


2619 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Have shared the review with Emily now.

Ectier
March 7th 2024


2619 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks Dewinged so much

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
March 7th 2024


32043 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Thanks to you! And Emily and co. for creating such a wonderful album, of course.



Good luck out there!

Hawks
March 7th 2024


87993 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Bout 2 turn this on now, HYPE!

Pikazilla
March 7th 2024


29782 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

good shi

Hawks
March 7th 2024


87993 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Her harsh vox are so fucking good holy hell.



Yeah this album is fucking amazing. A perfect follow up to Lunar Falls. M///

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
March 7th 2024


32043 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Pikachu approved baby



yeah her screams have improved greatly.

Ectier
March 7th 2024


2619 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Also good live friends. Ill probs up my score when i hear it again

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
March 7th 2024


32043 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

It has grown on me too the more I listened to it. The closer is incredible.

Ectier
March 7th 2024


2619 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I only heard it once last year so my memories a bit foggy

Atari
Staff Reviewer
March 7th 2024


27973 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I liked Lunar Falls but it's been a minute



Great writing, Dewi!

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
March 7th 2024


32043 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Cheers Atari! Hope you dig this one.



I just realized I forgot to link the vids to the first post, will do it in a minute.

wildinferno2010
March 8th 2024


1906 Comments


I remember seeing Suldusk once ages ago when it was just an acoustic thing. Wild where the project has gone. Gonna check this out later today

KrillBoi
March 8th 2024


466 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Beautiful stuff!

Eclecticism
March 8th 2024


86 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Lacks the charm of Lunar Falls to me, but it's still an excellent release.

PizzaBear
March 8th 2024


543 Comments


"Lacks the charm of Lunar Falls to me, but it's still an excellent release."

Based on first listen I think I'd agree but I'll need to revisit a couple more times to confirm

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
March 8th 2024


32043 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Maybe? I think this one captures that charm and makes it better overall. Production is immaculate and the songwriting is on par or even better than in LF.



Give it time, though. It's a grower.

Ectier
March 9th 2024


2619 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It is as good as i remembered



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