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Solarcycles – Ethereal Storms Award winner

Ethereal Storms
by Aurora Kuczek at 30 July 2020, 2:32 PM

Hailing from North Holland in the Netherlands come forth the folk metal band, SOLARCYCLES. The project formed in 2014, with their first release of an EP in 2017, entitled “Ethereal Storms.” For a shorter length release, it is quite extensive. With the various instruments used in combination with magnificent synths and serene vocal patterns, the project redefined elements of folk into more of an intangible fashion, meshed into an atmospheric environment. I was immersed into this realm and captivated by the world portrayed to me. Though well-developed for an EP and for their first release, there were some structural errors in the transitions as well as the smoothness of the guitar riffs. Nevertheless, I have high expectations and high hopes for this fascinating project’s future curations.

Hold On To The Sun” begins with a synth that awakens an ancient valley whose residents have since slept in days of night. Ancestral drums beat to the birds who scream at the sun, while a voice so ethereal blesses the land with her breath. In harmonious lullabies of a layered blend of majestic noises, a soft piano delicately whispers. Its synth tune carries the echoed nature to a buildup of violin beauty before fading completely. The animals rise to the skies and cling to the clouds with small hands.

Setting Sun” begins with a rhythmic tapping that introduces the next section. Airy guitars create a soft melody that lies between the muted atmospheres. This formulates into a folk tune of immersed guitars and equally empowered drums. A whimsical voice cuts through the land like a blade, cursing it for each year to come. A breakdown occurs and the tune shifts slightly. A synth follows behind like a softened wind. The heavy guitars and bass tremolo pick in the foreground as tunes repeat themselves. As the instruments travel rapidly, a slow synth follows overtop of it, carrying those of the land through the tips of the atmosphere. There, they dance upon the clouds, and the guitar riffs carry them through without them losing their footing.

Seven Spheres” introduces a high pitched tune that pierces through the afternoon. The movements of the creatures stop slightly. A flute carries a captivating tune. The guitars follow underneath, with the woman’s voice grasping the intangible. At times, the piece’s beat could be perceived as diverging from a folkish idea and towards popular music, yet this aids to the project’s originality. A breakdown occurs, and guitars follow downwards with the aches of the clouds as they fade to purples. Riffs spiral and it is intriguingly complex. As the instruments cease, the synths are added within next to the voice to create an exquisite ambience of thought-provoking beauty.

In “Blood Moon,” the sun dulls, and the creatures of the valley with fur upon their backs finds the moon to guide them. An unsettling synth-folk tune guides the lullaby further. Quiet notes are layered on top of one another to induce a placid understanding. This shifts into a heavier section where drums guide the listener in and out of the celestial. The guitars thump their melody with synths following closely along. The woman elegantly sings and the creatures turn their head to meet hers. Though expecting the woman’s vocal pattern to be predictable, the notes are unexpectedly charming and intriguing. A breakdown occurs, reformulating notes that had previously transpired. Here it seems as the guitars carry with an elegant riff, the drums lag on. The creatures fall asleep to a blended mystique tune onto a bed of air and water.

Clouded Stars” features a darkened synth that preys upon those sleeping during the night. The woman pushes harshly upon creatures until they fall through the clouds. A piano guides the woman’s hand and she grins as each creature sent out of boundaries of where she dwells. There is an abrupt change in melody, and a flute carries the track as cymbals crash whilst each beast fells. Through the tremolo picking of the guitars, the woman’s voice is hidden, shrouded under the glowing stars above. A growl is introduced, offering a different idea that the piece had not had before. Sounds are repeated in a celestial fashion. As the synths fade, all who were resting fell to the valley where they would be asleep once again for days to come. The woman smiles at her creations.

SOLARCYCLES’ “Ethereal Storms” is an alluring creation of a beautiful and raw environment. The ideas of the album go so far as to have their naturistic ideas align with the names of each track, the album, and the name of the band. The release put me with this line of thinking through the notes the musicians played and the overall feeling of the piece. I had somewhat hoped there had been some parts of recorded nature within the release. Their originality and uniqueness is extremely apparent. For their first release, and that being an EP, SOLARCYCLES have surely succeeded in creating something truly whimsical.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 10
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Hold On To The Sun
2. Setting Sun
3. Seven Spheres
4. Blood Moon
5. Clouded Stars
Ralf IJsbrandij – Drums
Iwan IJsbrandij – Guitars (lead), and Vocals (backing)
Sascha van der Meer – Vocals (lead), and Bass
Frank Timmerman – Keyboards
Silvana Jirka – Violin
Record Label: Independent


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