While a lack of standards coupled with an uncanny ability to sniff out atmoblack trvffles has certainly made my time in the ranks a little less hazardous than all the prospective n00b reading materials had lead to me to expect, something has been missing from my angry metal experience all the same. Sure, I’ve been fortunate to handle a few excellent albums by some big names that I adore, and Gaerea certainly stand out in the steadily expanding sea of my scribed selections, and yet I am unfulfilled – bitter, even. I write for Angry Fucking Metal Guy, damn it, where’s my Cloak of Ash, my Yodh, The Bleakness of MY Constant? This site has introduced me to countless gems that have captivated me and permanently improved my life in inimitable ways, yet even my most heartfelt exercises in overrating have failed to yield ‘that’ album unto me… until now. With Theia, the sophomore full-length from Austria’s Glare of the Sun, I have found completion, something that fills my Muppet void in ways that would make Ron Jeremy blush.
Theia is dense and layered, presenting enough musical variety to chew on as to give a weaker Muppet TMJ. Glare of the Sun operate in a manner not too terribly far removed from Dead to a Dying World or labelmates Oceanwake, weaving harsh and soothing textures together into a multifaceted monolith. Sludge, prog, death-doom, post metal, folk metal and ambience are all key structural components of the dark altar that these Austrians have constructed. Glare of the Sun blend this sonic palette into something inherently dark, even in its lightest shades; while “III” wears its death-doom sadboiness on its sludgy sleeve, the gentle proggery and post-metal atmospheric elements of “IV” instill a somewhat sanguine sense to the sepulchral scenery – only to be swiftly swallowed by an onslaught of somber, stoic sludge at the songs cessation. Even the wistful folk acoustics of “VI” end on a decidedly dark note; a lot happens during these XII songs, and none of it is cheerful.
The essence of Theia cannot be effectively bound to any one particular genre, but that isn’t to say that names can’t be dropped to leave a trail of references leading one to Glare of the Sun. The heaviest moments of the album, given to bouts of chunky chugging and melancholic melodies, make me envision a more polished and death-centric The Great Cold Distance -era Katatonia (“II”), or else the brutiful lovespawn of Ghost Brigade and Cult of Luna when post and sludge elements come into play (“III”). The cleaner side of things can recall anything from the airy prog of modern Anathema to the darker, stirring acoustics of October Falls, and all of this disparity is made to work together in a way that I’ve witnessed but had yet to stumble across during my own explorations of The Promo Zone.
Clocking in at just over an hour, my watch and my Angry Metal
Brainwashing Elite Conditioning tell me that Theia should be a lengthy, dragging experience, but my earballs tell a different story. These songs gather and release their energy with the cohesive momentum of a concept album, with melodies occasionally recurring to further suggest a unitive component to the compositions.1 Given the major doom element of the bands sound, it’s no surprise that some passages – such as the sinister Opethian prog stretch that starts off “VII” – are allowed to age gracefully before the next new riff can reign, yet constant subtle adjustments within these sustained segments help maintain a sense of perpetual motion. By the time “VI” ends a full half-hour has already passed, and yet this hardly feels like the case given the plethora of pessimistic sounds that has preceded this halfway mark.
The absence of justice and glistening musclebound ruffians from its album art will prevent Theia from claiming its rightful place among June’s Records o’ the Month in this the year ov our Jørn 2019; malnourished attention spans, a need for instant gratification and generally inferior tastes will likewise prevent many from reveling in its full glory, but
fuck them such is life, yo. Make what you will of the rating, Theia is possibly my favorite find since starting here, and it’s certainly at the top of my 2019 shortlist; points were docked for the sake of the impatient and the preservation of fingers, but strictly subjectively speaking I could personally get behind the heretical notion that Glare of the Sun have given me a perfect album.