Sunwolf II – Midnight Moon (Speedowax/Invektiv Records/ArkNoise/Colossus Tapes)
Available 29th April 2013
Leeds duo Sunwolf are releasing the follow up to Beyond The Sun – Louder Than War’s Brett Savage likes what he hears.
It seems like such a short amount of time has passed since Sunwolf arrived seemingly fully formed into this world and released the wonderfully doom-y ‘Beyond The Sun’. Reminiscent of avant metallers Sunn O)))), Earth and the downtuned riffing of Sleep, it was a confident debut that promised much. Midnight Moon progresses these ideas and shows that Sunwolf are working on a much broader canvas than last time and seemingly unwilling to plough a golden rut of a handful of ideas.
Sellanraa opens the album with a dark, sullen ambience that blooms into so some epic heavy guitar groove. Although not necessarily an indication as to where the rest of the album is heading, it is pretty much a statement of intent: there is a lot of skyward ambition here. Nevermind a Midnight Moon, Sunwolf seem to be attempting to swallow up that fiery ball in the sky. There are certainly echoes of Earth – especially around the Pentastar era, with unvarying riffing that builds in intensity with each pass. ‘Prey To Melancholy’ heads off into a black hole, circular and doomy until it escapes its own gravity and ascends to post-rock territories. Title track, Midnight Moon, picks up immediately after, recalling the previous song’s theme and melody. There is a touch of Mogwai at their gloomiest here.
Mortar and Bricks lightens the tone, at once being jazz inflected, sparse and diverting from the previous minor key dourness. This is a bold move and works magnificently here, giving the album far more breadth than initial expectations allowed. In Earnest is in a similar vein, reminding me of the sunnier aspects of Earth’s ‘Bees That Made The Honey..’; a short summery waltz of high lonesome Americana.
Plateau (pts 1&2) is where Midnight Moon really reaches it high point. It is hard not to imagine peyote streaked visions of cooling desert plateaus, just as your initiation is about to begin. Part 1 sets the scene with an unsettling drone, whilst Part 2 opens with Ennio Morricone-style plucks (yep, an overworked reference, but incredibly fitting here) , until the sky rips open with a loud, overbearing rumble, jangling your already perturbed senses. Imagine Carlos Castenada leading you back from a terrifying comedown. Sunwolf prove themselves to be as masterful at mining this sandblasted seam as much as Barn Owl or Headdress. The Glacial River ends the album proper with a frosty, lysergic ambience. This provides a reserved ending to an at times ferocious album. If you ordered the album online, then you get the bonus track ‘Hollow Mountain’, which is full on, driving Sleep-style riffing and an added pleasure.
Leeds has plenty of great bands to offer at the minute, and Sunwolf are certainly not letting the city down. Given this duo’s rapid rate of work, how long will it be before we see another album? Expectations are high, chaps!
All words by Brett Savage. More work on Louder Than War by Brett Savage can be found here.