Second to Sun - The First Chapter (2016)
Avant-garde, mostly-instrumental pioneers Second to Sun have created an otherworldly instrumental landscape for their newest album, entitled The First Chapter. Hailing from Russia, Second to Sun have incorporated a dark blend of fairy tales, atmosphere and original stories into each of their songs, giving these lush, heavy, glorious pieces a much greater depth than a band purely interested in making a simple sound-oriented groove. But this is nothing new for the mini orchestra conducted by founding member Aleh Zelenkevich (who also plays drums), Vladimir Lehtinen, and Theodor Borovski.
Opening track "Spirit of Kosoto" begins with extremely melodic keyboards, almost resembling a quiet rainstorm before a glitchy drastic lighting bolt of tangled squealing guitars blasts alongside back-breaking drum-beats, with those keys intelligently woven through the rest of the piece. A particularly wonderful, and creepy, feature of this album is a mechanical-sounding voice, or maniacal laughter sprinkled throughout. "Me or Him" begins in similar fashion, but the quiet is broken up much sooner than before, providing a sinister howl not out of place from the background music for a film centered around a Viking war party cornering whomever is unfortunate enough to be their prey, and ending with a single somber last note. "Land of the Fearless Birds", "The Blood Libel", and "Narčat" all continue churning out relentless beat after beat, which, to me, keeps up the idea of traveling through a nightmarish soundscape with a storm following every step, relentlessly marching onward into glory. "Virgo Mitt" ends our travels and unleashes a more chaotic onslaught of guitars, almost like this entire album is a lion tamer who's kept his beast at bay but finally lost the upper hand, until a final return to the harmonious bliss we heard at the very beginning of the album. It leads me to wonder, was this a dream? Or was a battle truly won in the end?
An added bonus are two bonus tracks at the end, "Chokk Kapper" and a demo version of "Narčat". Their Bandcamp, featured below, also has their first, albeit unofficial, album, Based on a True Story, which I also highly recommend.
For Fans Of: Mayhem, Red Decending, Synestesia, Kataklysm, Arghoslent