Sol Negro’s Dawn of A New Sun is an absolute gem. Originally released in a limited edition of cassette tapes last year, it’s about to get the full-fledged distribution it deserves via the excellent Mexico-based label Chaos Records. Today we’re giving you a taste of the album by premiering the record’s final track, “Where Flies the Raven”. But first, here are some impressions about Dawn of A New Sun as a whole.
Attempting to categorize the album in genre terms is a challenge. The music is remarkably dynamic, with different songs emphasizing different aspects of what turns out to be Sol Negro’s own very distinctive sound. At different moments I thought of bands such as Obscura and Death (at their most progressively inclined), though shrouded in a mantle of black metal and doom. But as it happens, the reference that may come closest to capturing the band’s core motif lies in the one cover song on the album: “Dead Emotion” by Paradise Lost, a brilliant song from the band’s second album Gothic (1991), which Sol Negro perform brilliantly.
And if all these diverse band references confuse you, trust me when I say that the music is masterfully cohesive. Sol Negro unite elements of doom, progressive death, and black metal to create a genuine feast for the ears.
Although the many memorable melodies that flow through the album are generally tinged with a bleak, gothic air, the album is nevertheless charged with intensity, even during passages when the band pull back on the pacing and drop into slow, doom-laden processions. Much of the album’s riveting energy emanates from the stellar instrumental performances, and the album is mixed in a way that allows all of them to shine with co-equal brightness. The intricacy and inventiveness of all the performances is what brings to mind bands such as Death and Obscura (and yes, this is an album where the bass work is as nimble and as interesting as the guitar parts). They reach the peak of extravagance in the album’s first and longest track, “No Fear To Die”, but every song features electrifying moments of beautifully integrated complexity, and the album is loaded with magnificent guitar solos.
Seriously, there’s never a dull moment. “9th Conjuration” moves between bursts of jagged riffing and hammering drum beats, hard-rocking rhythms, and prog-styled workouts. “Nuclear Sentinel” is at times a militaristic rumble of heavy artillery in action and at other times an exercise in hammering darkness, with sledgehammers of doom coming down and an ominous, rippling tremolo lead piercing the gloom. “They Came From Darkness” mixes heavy doom riffs and beautiful guitar solos that explode in shimmering effusions of light (and you may even be tempted to sing along to the song’s magnetic howled chorus).
The lead guitar swarms and slithers through the rumbling, jagged avalanche of “The Passage Without Light”, while “Where Flies the Raven” segues between slow, doomy melodic riffs paired with tumbling percussion and high-energy hard rocking.
To come back to early Paradise Lost, the vocals are strongly reminiscent of Nick Holmes, circa 1991 — a kind of raw, caustic howl that’s full of life and full of sharp teeth, too. Even the one brief appearance of morose clean singing on “No Fear To Die” is a success.
And if all that weren’t enough, the songs’ lyrics are really far above average in their eloquence and intrigue — and thankfully the Chaos Records release will come with a 12-page booklet that includes all of them.
To repeat: Dawn of A New Sun is a gem, one of the year’s biggest and best surprises. Don’t miss it.
Sol Negro began in Mexico but are now based in Seattle. The members are: Jose Luis “Sangreth” Rodriguez (vocals/guitar) (ex-Bloodsoaked), Tanith “Tannoth” Lanzillotta (lead guitar) (Forest of Grey), Carl Larsson (bass) (Fallen Angels), and Tyburn (drums) (ex-Inquinok).
Dawn of A New Sun is scheduled for release by Chaos Records on November 29. The cover art is by Matt “Putrid” Carr. And now we’re pleased to present the premiere of the album’s final track, “Where Flies the Raven”.