you resource for all things shoegaze & dream pop.

14 February 2012

Album Review: Sun Devoured Earth. The Sunshine Always Fades.

Artist: Sun Devoured Earth.
Album Title: The Sunshine Always Fades.
Release Date: April 2011.
Stream it / Buy It: Bandcamp.

Review by: Lee Vincent.

Sun Devoured Earth. It's hard to imagine art capable of living up to such a strong, enigmatic title. But somehow with a peculiar breed of “black metal shoegaze,” Vadim Vasilyev's music does exactly so. Ever since he gave birth to the project which would dominate his life, his aesthetic has never fallen short. His work may traverse through different genres and styles, but the voices of the two muses who guide his vision – sadness and nostalgia – are always there.

Without a doubt the muses' voices ring louder than ever on the 2011 full-length, The Sunshine Always Fades. All of the song titles from “I'm Bored of Living” to “Melancholy” are portraits of his undying demons and unyielding pain. Take the opening track: “The Wind.” Rapid tremolo pickings are paired against reverb-trailed arpeggios. There are no vocals, no discernible rhythms, no melodies. Yet even in this abstract two-minute opener, depression engulfs us. We are pulled into Vasilyev's inner suffering as he paints an image of the sun fading into an impenetrable mist, the album title's meaning coming full circle.

However, by no means does this album wholly depend upon abstract imagery; plenty of tracks teem with a discernible beauty and power. “Emptiness” throws us into the dark alleyways of Latvia with echoing thunders, ambient touches, and a wall of distorted feedback which reminds us of Sun Devoured Earth's “black-metal shoegaze” title. “Crashes Down” continues the fashion of metal surely more fit for daydreaming than headbanging. The song features subtle washes of white noise, simple drum patterns, and post-rock guitar lines, over which Vasilyev whispers nihilistic lyrics like: “God please give me a sign/ I can't handle this life on my own” that resonate like an arrow to the heart.

The songs of The Sunshine Always Fades have no end and no beginning. The album as a whole merely throws us into some inescapable dark Eastern European world. This sense of infinity induces a seemingly everlasting trance while somehow still allowing room for each track to build a startling allure all its own. Vadim Vasilyev's music may conjure the title of black-metal shoegaze, but no artist supplements the power of black metal with the beauty of shoegaze as well as Sun Devoured Earth. A formula he may grow off of, but a formula he does not fall victim to.