Second to Sun – Nocturnal Philosophy [Things You Might Have Missed 2022]

Of all the black metal names tossed around this site, Second to Sun is one of my favorites. Since giving their amazing record, The Walk, the top spot in 2018, StS have been regular listers for ole Grier. The combination of atmoblack, unsettling dissonance, and crushing riffs is like nothing I’ve ever heard before from a black metal outfit. The band has followed a standard format of digestible track lengths spread evenly over a forty-to-fifty-minute runtime for the last few years. But something dark is hovering over Vlad and co. Nocturnal Philosophy is something different. Maybe not in the same vein as the never-mentioned Based on a True Story, but… different.

In September, StS released a small collection of original and re-recorded tracks on the Voices of Obscurantism EP. Shortly after, Nocturnal Philosophy dropped seemingly out of nowhere. With fewer tracks than the EP, I assumed 2022 would be a year of double EPs for the band. I realized my mistake once I laid my grubby hands on Nocturnal Philosophy. Unlike previous releases containing eight to ten tracks, Nocturnal Philosophy is a mere five songs. That was the first indication that something was different. The second was that this new record has a forty-three-minute runtime, suggesting long pieces. While not entirely uncommon for the band, this is quite the transition. However, it occurred to me that Legacy and Leviathan have been setting this transition up for a while now.1 But how will this affect the album’s outcome?

It’s safe to say it doesn’t. If anything, it strengthens it. While an album like The Walk flows along a predetermined path, it’s lush with side canyons along the way. On the other hand, Nocturnal Philosophy is like turning the page of a book. While there are chapters to this book, it would be wrong to read them out of order. Or greedily jump to the final pages to see how the story ends. With previous releases, I could jump around as I pleased, enjoying a somber mood here or a killer riff there. To experience—and understand—Nocturnal Philosophy, you must follow the chain of events.

The album setter, “North Metal Legion,” is a chaotic, twelve-minute boat ride to hell. Containing various concussive moments as only StS can deliver, it sets up this journey of nightmares perfectly. As you venture further down the river, the bodies of all you’ve lost begin floating to the surface. Regret, grief, guilt wash over you in a dark, depressing fog. This boat of death has reached “Veter.” Only the heart-wrenching back half of the title track can top this feeling. Not to mention, “Nocturnal Philosophy” is a terrifying song structured around a simple yet effective bass slide that’ll haunt you forever. If there is a detour down a river branch, it’s “Call to the Grave.” Coming off the somber mood of the track before, you might have released your grip on the rail. If you did, this black ‘n’ roll beauty would surely send you over the side and drown you in the black rapids.

While the arrangement and length of the songs are different, there’s no fear that you’re walking into something you won’t find comfortable. The riffs, the vocals, the atmospheres are all intact to give you the fuzzy feelings only StS can provide. Though Nocturnal Philosophy is a different beast than anything the band has done before, I feel it marks a new phase for the band. Don’t bet me on it, but Nocturnal Philosophy is a springboard for something to come. What that might be, I don’t know. But I’m ready.

Tracks to Check Out: All of them.

Show 1 footnote

  1. See Legacy’s “Pages for a Manuscript” and Leviathan’s “Eerie” and title track.
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