Sun Devoured Earth
Sounds of Desolation
Arguably since Alcest made it big, the fusion of black metal and shoegaze music has become pretty popular, particularly among one and two-man bands. First capturing my heart with the likes of Lantlos and Heretoir, this appropriately titled ‘blackgaze’ sound offered a much softer approach to the black metal aesthetic, a perfect alternative for sleepy metalheads and their girlfriends alike. First starting out under the moniker Fuschia, multi-instrumentalist Vadim Vasilyev changed his project name to Sun Devoured Earth, and has been churning out tons of music since 2009. A beautiful band name for equally pleasant music, Sounds of Desolationwill offer a listener comfort and refuge, but there’s something missing from the formula that keeps me from disappearing completely.

 For those unaware of the shoegaze label, think of an atmospheric form of post-rock, saturated with layers of effects and ambiance. Sun Devoured Earth has plenty of both, and while it may have been a black metal project at one point, there’s almost nothing here that would constitute ‘metal’. In fact, even compared to a lot of the shoegaze I have heard, Sun Devoured Earth really presses the ambiance. Although most of these tracks build around a rock-based idea (be it a drum loop or guitar melody), listeners will find that most of their attention floats to the atmosphere. Suffice to say, there are no ditties here that will have tweens bopping their heads along. The music is slow, gentle, and filled with the melancholic despair that could be created by one who truly felt the emotions. Feeling and sonic depth are in no short supply on Sounds of Desolation. Unfortunately, other elements here feel entirely hollow.
Although it’s well-understandable that Sun Devoured Earth is geared towards making purely atmospheric music, the songwriting here feels thin. It’s as if Sounds of Desolation is a cake with one part pastry and nine parts icing; the amount of reverb, delay, and twangy guitars serve to coat an album lacking compositional brilliance. Vasilyev layers the ambiance of his music often to the point where it feels like an overload. Especially considering that the vast majority of the atmosphere leans towards a mellow mood, it feels like the music could have done more with less. Also taking into consideration that most of these tracks are a bare three minutes long, they feel more like idea-snippets, or ‘sketches’, rather than songs. “Chorus of Passing” exempts itself from this law, taking a few more minutes to create a dreary piece that might fit snugly in Ulver‘s recent catalog.
Sounds of Desolation is indeed a beautiful album, but more is needed here than merely ambiance and ‘sounding pretty’. It’s muffled, and occasionally listless. Its weaknesses aside, seekers of melancholic atmosphere will find comfort here.
[Visit the band's website]
Written by Conor Fynes
August 6th, 2012

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