With bands that choose to blend the harsh grimness of black metal with the hallucinatory realm of dark ambient music, normally the combination of the two results in a sound where the former takes the dominating role. Abrasive tremolo riffage and blast beat-laced fury might serve as the foundation, while an ethereal cloak of ambiance acts as the embellishing element. So, it's interesting to come across bands like Slovenia’s Snøgg every now and then, for whom the opposite is actually the case.

Ritual of the Sun, Snøgg’s second full-length, exercises a languid progression that is a firm exercise in pacing and patience if nothing else. As a single track -- one solid 37-minute listen -- the album is composed of dense and aurally stimulating atmospherics with keyboard and other electronics. The mood that Snøgg craft with this approach doesn’t feel overly oppressive or somber, though. On the contrary: it has a peculiar sense of warmth and transformative power to it, as if it’s bidding the listener welcome to a warm, healing cocoon.

Snøgg are much more interested in crafting a relieving, metamorphic journey with this album than the bleaker and more nihilistic aura that is often associated with dark ambient music. Check out a full stream of Ritual of the Sun below to hear for yourself.

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Snøgg’s dark ambient delivery comes to peak around a third of the way into Ritual of the Sun. The unstructured, atmospherically style builds steadily until guitars and heavier black metal influences begin to enter. When these do emerge, however, the result is far from traditional styles of black metal, instead more mid-paced, rhythmically oriented, and assertive (especially the drumming). And the Pagan-like chants of vocalist Matej Voglar are the icing on the cake here, bringing the music to climax in magnificently transcendent fashion.

In some ways, though, Snøgg leave some to be desired -- their transition into heavier territory doesn't stay around for long (barely five minutes) before sinking back into an aqueous ambiance for the rest of the album’s duration. But this structure of Ritual of the Sun could also be interpreted as an effective lesson in creating an atmosphere that gradually crescendos into a climax before descending back downward again into a more restrained approach for its final resolution. In this regard, the album is an exemplar of patient songwriting, and one that fans of the more pensive side of ambient music would do well to give their attention.

-- Sahar Alzilu


Ritual of the Sun releases tomorrow, July 17, 2020 and can be purchased via Bandcamp.

From the band:

Ritual of the Sun is a spiritual journey into the worlds and regions unknown. Bound to the obedience of their god, the people of the unknown tribe get up early in the morning before the sunrise and go to a sacred place, hidden in the mountainous woodlands where they begin the ritual and praise their Maker. After the ceremony, they return back home to their normal lives.


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