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Sūrya - Solastalgia Award winner

by Damian Smith at 04 September 2019, 3:38 PM

Man, what is it about the United Kingdom that produces so much bleak, and despairing music? Whether you lean towards the timeless devilry of BLACK SABBATH, or the gothic, and funereal sounds of MY DYING BRIDE or PARADISE LOST, the UK has become synonymous with breeding some of the darkest, and most well-known names in the broad spectrum of Doom Metal. Hailing from London, England, SŪRYA is a four-piece, instrumental Doom/Sludge Metal band, with some Post-Rock influence for good measure. But, while they may not share a great deal in common, sonically, with the aforementioned groups, their most recent offering, titled “Solastalgia,” is anything but a heartwarming experience. And, to be sure, this is an album that should be considered an experience, I think, and one that will require some attention from the listener. In my opinion, it’s probably most effective if you can sit down, and spin the whole thing in its entirety.

The colossal, nine-minute opener, “Anthropocene,” begins with a solemn, introspective progression, which patiently expands to include some reverb-rich clean guitar flourishes, and a distant, droning lead. Gradually, the track progresses, taking its time, adding layer upon layer and gathering intensity behind a sample of spoken word, until it simply can’t be contained anymore and gives way to a wall of crushing, warm distortion. In spite of the length of the track, and the fact that it never really deviates too far from its home base chord progression, it doesn’t “feel” too long. The pacing, and use of dynamics in the composition is done so at an expert level.

The second track, titled “The Purpose,” is more driving, and a bit more structured than “Anthropocene”. Although, this track still makes heavy use of layering, and seems to breath, and build naturally, in much the same way. There are some sparse vocals towards the end of this song, which are of the harsh, shrieked variety. They’re short-lived, but contribute nicely to the intensity of the particular moment.

The end of this song transitions directly into “Fenland,” which at just two and a half minutes, is the shortest track on the record, consisting of little more than some atmospheric, jangling clean guitars, and another spoken word sample. The piece comes and goes before you know it. But, it provides a good opportunity to catch your breath before jumping back into, perhaps my favorite song on the album, “Black Snake Prophecy,” and the closer, “Saviours”. These two tracks feature the heaviest concentration of vocals on the entire album, with the lyrics for “Black Snake Prophecy,” in particular standing in defiance of mankind’s destructive activities on Earth. “We can’t drink oil!”

Although mostly instrumental, the message behind “Solastalgia” is clear and, with it, the band have painted a despondent picture. I’m not familiar with the band’s previous output, but I found the liberal usage of samples, almost in place of vocals, to be quite interesting. I think, had the album run on any longer, SŪRYA might have started to lose me a bit. But, at just over half an hour, it’s trim, effective, and doesn’t overstay it’s welcome.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Anthropocene
2.  The Purpose
3.  Fenland
4.  Black Snake Prophecy
5.  Saviours
Raquel – Drums
Greg – Guitar
Mark – Bass
Bartek – Guitar
Record Label: Argonauta Records


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Edited 19 February 2020

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