Sun Worship – Emanations of Desolation [Things You Might Have Missed 2019]

Too much music is released and there is not enough time nor space to cover it all. Some publicists game the system and generate artificial hype for their artists. A certain uniformity in year-end lists plagues major publications. An echo chamber of taste ensnares the metal community. Some of these reasons and a plethora of others may be why bands like the Berlin-based (deathened) black metal duo Sun Worship fly under the radar. Despite being around since 2010 and having released two excellent full-lengths and a number of solid EPs and splits, they have managed to evade the myopic eye of metaldom. Which is a shame, considering their intriguing music is as stylistically diverse as it is coherent in its attack. Luckily, Emanations of Desolation offers a new portal to explore Sun Worship’s filthy, beautiful world.

Led by the ritualistic rhythms and spaced out hallucinations of intro “Zenith”—a departure from the usual atmospheric dilly-dally found in the genre—“Void Conqueror” jolts Emanations of Desolation out of inertia and into a space filled by a rumbling, grumbling concoction of death and black influences, only to then isolate them, mutate them, and repeat them as variations on themes. It is a wonderful approach to songwriting, one which conjures oppressive heaviness and lightens it with dynamic transformations. As this first proper cut nears its end, the undulating tremolos and blastbeats sink deeper and deeper, ultimately settling into progressions of swarming riffs washed over with growls and cleanly sung responses. During these openings, archetypal minutes of the album, the music of Sun Worship departs from its usual monolithic atmosphere and instead becomes simultaneously patient and continuously restless, wildly brutal and architecturally serene.

On “Devoured,” Bastian Hagedorn (on drums) and Lars Ennsen (on guitars and vocals) suddenly drop into lower tempos, their grooving instrumentation clanking, meandering, and scorching everything in its twisted path. Then: a break. A faintly bluesy crescendo. And yet another frantic cadence change as the duo move from the cold and raw undertones of early Celtic Frost to the hymnal ferociousness of Enslaved’s Eld on “Torch Reversed.” Here, tremolos, harmonies, and melodies nurture chanted vocals from a different timeline. Despite its substantial length, the hour-long Emanations of Desolation never drags nor resorts to fillers. Rather, it shapeshifts continually, breathing in the density of Krallice and exhaling the atmosphere of Wolves in the Throne Room. It is this diversity that makes the record so rewarding, with layers and sequences somehow rearranging themselves from listen to listen, like the most delightful procedural dungeon crawler.

The dyad of “Pilgrimage” and “Coronation” marks the album’s centerpiece and a compelling raison d’être. First, the buildup: a spooky, doomy, and slowed-down synthwave piece that echoes with martial folk. Second, the payoff: an explosion of progressive black metal glissades into dizzying spirals centered around a mesmerizing start-stop sequence. “Coronation” is such an enthralling cut that you might not even notice how “Without End” winds things down into funeral doom pace, dripping with languid but gorgeous chords. Like the proverbial cherry on the top, it completes Emanations of Desolation as Sun Worship’s most varied and successful record to date.

Tracks to Check Out: “Torch Reversed,” “Pilgrimage,” and “Coronation”

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