Second to Sun – The Black (Review)

Second to SunThis is the fourth album from Russian blackened melodic death metal band Second to Sun.

Apparently this is a rerecording of the band’s 2016 release Blackbound, with added vocals, and other differences. I was totally unfamiliar with Second to Sun’s work prior to listening to The Black, so I can’t comment on how this relates to Blackbound, other than to say that it does.

The Black combines an obvious passion for Scandinavian black metal and melodic death metal with a plethora of other styles and sub-genres. On paper this sounds like it might get a bit polluted and confusing, but the reality of Second to Sun’s sound is that they manage to merge these different influences into something largely coherent and full of grim atmosphere and venomous aggression.

This is also an unexpectedly complex and multifaceted album, with various ancillary styles rearing their heads occasionally, (ambient, folk, thrash, groove, even some djent), and various different ideas and creative flourishes showing themselves here and there. This could be a lonesome flute, or a cybermetal-styled section, or a piece of crushing technicality, or energetic keyboards, or any number of other things.

For all its rampant aggression, The Black is surprisingly immersive and atmospheric. The core of violence that sits at the heart of a band like this is surrounded by all manner of different enhancements and augmentations, making for a layered approach to music that is compelling and more mood-driven than you might think on first listen.

The vocals are needle-thin and barbed. The singer’s visceral shriek falls somewhere between black metal’s ugly rasps and melodeath’s scathing screams. Either way, he sounds damn good.

Melodic, symphonic, blackened, groove deathcore? Imagine what a mix of Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, At the Gates, Anaal Nathrakh, In Flames, and Dark Tranquillity might sound like – Second to Sun are all of this and more, it seems. The Black is a rare release; not only is it very good, but it’s also highly individual.

Hard to classify, easy to enjoy – make sure you give this one some time.

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