(Music writer Konstantin, who in past years has written for Serbia’s Nocturne Music Magazine, rejoins us with this review of the new album by the French band Soror Dolorosa, which was released by Prophecy on September 15.)
The last 15 years have put France mainly “under the light” of the black metal scene and created a solid number of followers worldwide. Completely justified, one could say, taking into consideration the impact that French bands have created on extreme metal in this period. At the same time, several other good bands have come out, but have received drastically less attention and fewer fans.
The birth and death of French cold wave happened almost three decades ago, and you could count on the fingers of one hand the bands that have lasted for more than just a few years. A certain revival was finally seen in the debut album of Soror Dolorosa in 2011. At last, we are now able to see and hear their third LP, four years after their solid sophomore release No more heroes. There wasn’t much to hear from them in this period. They played only a handful of concerts, but at least now we know the reason. And the reason is excellent – Apollo is finally out and they have made their best record so far.
From the start we hear a recognizable vibe and sound, though this is definitely their most layered album to date. Their cold wave base is now spattered with moments of synth-pop, goth rock, and acoustic guitar, creating in the end a beautiful combination. Apollo is more harmonic, definitely more melodic, and significantly better “packed” than previous releases.
Unlike the first two albums, where the band had strong differences between each song on the record, now the material seems more coherent, affecting you as a whole with each of its parts. A strong feeling of melancholy is present throughout most of the songs and it easily evokes similar emotions in the listener; it’s a bit “lighter” than the first two efforts, yet powerful and expressive. French cold wave has always been known for its unique affective impact, often turning affliction into something attractive and inspirational. Apollo goes further — at moments dreamy and sensual (even romantic, why not), it is quite an emotional record and provides the right autumnal background.
The two tracks that announced the arrival of the album (“Everyway” and “The End”) are the highlights of the LP, though I need to mention the title track and “Breezed and Blue” as equally strong and beautiful. In these pieces melancholy reaches its peak and it is hard to remain unaffected by them. Although some songs are catchy, the album itself asks for several spins before you actually create the whole image. Even “Deposit Mineral” and “Golden Snake”, which seem the least interesting, in the end fit well as the closing tracks of the album and have rightly found their spot on this record. Andy Julia’s vocal performance is the best he has done so far (particularly in “The End”) and remains one of distinctive characteristics of the band’s sound.
Soror Dolorosa keep going upward with their career, and Apollo comes as convincing evidence of it. It is mature, constant, and massive, and definitely an album which you will come back to in the years after it was released. Some of the songs go hand-in-hand with their classics, “Autumn Wounds”, “Sound & Death”, or “A Dead Yesterday”, proving that their peculiar sound is still growing and expanding. Now, it only remains to hope that the band will increase the number of their live appearances and give us more chances to see them perform.