One could argue that when you combine atmosphere and post metal with black metal that you lose the black metal itself. To a purist of the genre, we live in an era of blasphemous travesty, when bands can incorporate whatever styles they want with black metal and be surprisingly successful at it. To a well rounded and open minded connoisseur of extreme metal, however, this is an exciting time to be alive. Take a deep look at the album cover and absorb it while consciously listening to “The Last Farewell” in its entirety – if you’re not swept up in the sorrowful beauty Soul Dissolution is offering then feel free to retreat back to your cave, knuckles dragging in tow.
Kicking off the album is an absolutely gorgeous intro that could be included as part of the original soundtrack to a fantasy game (perhaps The Witcher 3). If you’re familiar with d&b, the style is reminiscent of the strings/keys producers use as instrumentation, which is particularly prominent in the liquid style. Similarly to the intro, there is a short interlude and an outro, leaving this seven track album only four songs of explorative and emotionally charged black metal. Fortunately those four songs are between seven minutes to almost ten minutes long, so we don’t feel as though we’re losing time with Soul Dissolution. In fact, this is time very well spent.
I was caught off guard rather early on by some surprisingly deeper vocals than I expected to hear going in to Stardust. They’re still technically shrieks as one could expect from any style of black metal, but they fall on the deeper end of the spectrum – closer to a bellow than a rasp. I was almost put off by this, but I stuck with it, and by the end of the album I found myself lusting to hear it again. On my second listen, as soon as the vocals kicked in I had warmed up to them, and suddenly I felt the exact opposite as I had before. These vocals give the entire experience of this album a more unique and fresh perspective, and that in itself works well. There are plenty more reasons to cherish this album, however.
The music is exceptional – reminiscent of early Vintersorg, with feelings of immense sorrow and boundless power behind every riff. This is complimented by the mesmerizing atmosphere, which contrasts the bleakness of the black metal so well. Contrast done this well is unique and rare in extreme music, giving it more depth and complexity without detracting from the underlying bleakness. Ugliness helps beauty to shine, and vice versa – which is something Soul Dissolution have proven they understand with a fierce passion. At that, I’ve come full circle and need to bring up “The Last Farewell” again. Rarely does a song give me goosebumps every time I hear it without fail. Transitioning from the piano interlude of “Mountain Pass” (which includes the sound of footsteps in the snow to aid us in our journey), the post rock/shoegaze buildup on this song is the perfect example of incorporating dreamy styles with black metal for a highly competent, breathtakingly beautiful experience.
Close your eyes and focus on the music for thirty-eight minutes and you might have a visual expedition within your mind similar to mine. Far away from civilization, I begin my immense journey at dawn, heading out from a dew-kissed field of grass. Although the sky is mostly ensconced by dark clouds, rays of sunlight occasionally peak through from between the forest of trees in the distance. Once through the field I traverse via an ancient fallen tree across a vast roaring river, the white-capped cerulean waters all too eager to consume my life given one slip on the damp, rotting bark. I make my way into the dense forest ahead, quickly drowning in a sea of greens and browns, using only my sense of where I belong to guide me through nature’s labyrinth. At the edge of the forest I find myself at the foot of an immeasurable mountain, one that would surely dwarf even the giants. I proceed to forge a narrow winding path ever upward, the loose snow covered ground crumbling under each carefully placed footstep while cold winds whip at my face. At dusk I reach the summit, and not a moment too soon. Tonight I bathe in the beauty of the vast stars above blanketing down upon me, thousands more appearing with each blink of an eye as night descends. I feel warmth and peace from the Stardust.
All I have left to say is that if you have a soul, Stardust will appeal to you.