Suldusk - Lunar Falls - (8.5/10)
Published on March 26, 2019
Suldusk is a neofolk project with elements of doom and atmospheric black metal by Emily Highfield from Australia. “Lunar Falls” is the debut album coming on April 12th 2019. For all listeners of folk, post rock, atmospheric black, doom metal or any other sad music genre, this is a release that you really don’t want to miss. From the two minute intro “Eleos” you can already tell that it’s got a very special sound. I’m not even a fan of this genre. But even for me, it instantly clicked and I was completely immersed into it. From the slightly eerie and immersive intro of wind and bird songs background over which the acoustic guitar starts playing, it is already intriguing. And once you hear her voice, you just fall into a trance.
Taking you into a drowsy, hypnotized state is what this album does best. It is filled with emotion and has one of the most effective and creative ways of building an atmosphere. Acoustic guitars and her voice are the centerpieces of the record but there are a lot of other elements coming into the mix like keyboards, drums, acoustic percussion, bass and even some cello (which I thought was one of the most welcome additions). It is also very well produced to have a raw, organic but very full sound. Everything adds up to create this very immersive feel and allow the emotions to flow. It is primarily sad but this is expressed in many different ways, with some songs being very slow and quiet whereas others bring in the percussion and give a pretty good beat, yet never hinder the atmosphere coming through. Sometimes it tends to take a more somber tone reminding of doom metal and it may also contrast with brief moments of brightness where it seems soothing and peaceful. Despite being very dark, it has a very comforting effect and works very well for background music. I could even recommend it as soundtrack for falling asleep.
As far as the vocal performance goes, there really is no negative. From a more mid range to melodies soaring in higher octaves, every note is filled with emotion and smoothens the substance of the whole mix. She adds even more hypnotic effect infusing whispers in the background. But probably what I liked most about this album is how she merged this atmospheric, clean, acoustic sound with raw black metal, adding an element of tuned down aggression. Her harsh vocal totally doesn’t sound human and has this incredibly creepy echoing effect and the distorted guitars sound very muddy and muffled. But the best thing is that even when she adds black metal to the blend, the acoustics are still in the fore-front and maintain a sense of clarity (“Solus Ipse”, “Aphasia” and “Sovran Shrines” are the only songs with real black metal in them).
The album’s main theme is presented as (quoting)”living on the margins, and the intolerable suffering and sacrifice in the quest for identity”. Also a lot of the lyrics are inspired by nature. And the album is dedicated to Aleah Starbridge with the song “The Elm” being an adaptation of the song “Sinking Ships” (Aleah and Juha Raivio – Trees of Eternity). To be honest, for my personal taste “Lunar Falls” was a bit lacking in diversity with all songs sounding pretty similar and expressing roughly the same thing but there are enough elements to keep you interested and I was very impressed by the fact that an album so far out of my comfort zone could so easily draw me in. If I am to just sit down and listen to it all the way through, there is a certain monotony to it that I’m not a very big fan of but it is certainly not enough to make me dislike it. Especially if dark neofolk and sad atmospheric music is your thing, I can’t recommend this enough.