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Sun Worship – ‘Pale Dawn’

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“Who makes more money with what they do, Liturgy or Watain?”

The above quote came from Sun Worship singer and guitarist Lars Ennsen in response to a question from Noisey concerning black metal’s rise in the mainstream over the past several years. It’s an intelligent middle-finger to a close-minded community, but it also comes from the perspective of someone straddling the scene as both a participant and a critic, asking those involved to think for themselves and draw conclusions based upon their own moral compass and not mob mentality. In another interview with Echoes and Dust, Ennsen responds to a question concerning the state of black metal with, “It’s been dead for at least 20 years, for better or worse.”

It’s a combination of these beliefs, one of disdain for the rules that define a scene and act as a barrier to entry, and the other a blunt and objective state of the union, that shapes the Berlin trio. They have little interest in how they’re perceived by their community without actively trying to instigate them, and put forth pummeling and thoughtful black metal while acknowledging that the genre’s best days have long passed. This lack of pretension is what allows them to create such blistering and and cathartic music, and Pale Dawn stands as their most honest representation to date of their aesthetics.

Since their first demo, they’ve coupled their love for minimalism and early-’90s Darkthrone with a depth that goes far beyond the simple intensity of their peers, creating genuine feelings of tension, release and catharsis. They firmly root themselves in the past, at a point when black metal felt new and limitless, and travel from that checkpoint, creating what feels like a true progression of the genre. In particular, they have a knack for landing on hooks that are so epic, it’s like listening to a seasoned band.

One noticeable difference: Pale Dawn lacks the ambiance of their previous full-length, Elder Giants. Instead of providing some repose, Pale Dawn sprints from the opening drum roll and does not abate for the next 36 minutes. Even more impressive is that not a moment is wasted. From the opera tonalities of opener “Pale Dawn” to the epic crescendo of “Lichtenberg Figures,” their music is heavily refined and subtle in its progression. When the clean vocals enter on album closer “Perihelion,” it achieves what a lot of blackgaze attempts, without looking to reference the genre in any form.

At the core of their music, Sun Worship reflect the mature realization of their actions and beliefs: They love black metal but could do without its politics. Considering that this is one of the genre’s defining characteristics, they’ve decided to pour energy into what they believe is good–the music–while never doubting the overall meaninglessness of their environment and its incessant need to reaffirm cliche values through corpsepaint and shock.

—Aaron Maltz

Follow Sun Worship on Facebook.

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