Winter is black metal season. Everyone knows this – the grim and frostbitten memes start popping up sometime around the end of November, and every time there’s a major snowstorm some clever bastich or other (and I’ll admit to being guilty of this myself) starts making references to Blashyrkh like (usually) he’s the first person to ever think of the joke. By mid-March, though, those of us who live in snow belts (like Northern Indiana, where I reside) are all pretty well sick to fucking death of winter. After four or five months of a Midwestern or New England winter, most people are desperate for something to break the monotony of barren trees and varying shades of white or grey. By early March, we are all pretty much craving a splash of color – for enough snow to melt for the grass to peek through, or for the dogwoods to start to bloom.
How ironic is it, then, that the depressive end of the black metal spectrum is the most likely place to find that splash of color so many of us crave? For example, consider Belgian duo Soul Dissolution – lyrically they may deal with themes of apathy, depression, and inner turmoil, but musically they’re uplifting in the same way as bands like Agalloch, Alcest, or Woods of Desolation, the latter of which may be the best comparison point for the band. Multi-instrumentalist Jabawock (who also handles vocal duties in Ah Ciliz) has a knack for writing exquisitely melodic, emotionally evocative black metal, and vocalist Acharan’s emotive rasps provide the perfect foil for Jabawock’s riffs.
Soul Dissolution’s second full-length Stardust, which we’re thrilled to be hosting the exclusive North American stream of here at the Vault, is one of those rare albums that somehow makes sadness sound triumphant. And regardless of what approach the band takes – whether it’s the more aggressively melodic (think Winterfylleth) tracks like “Circle of Torment” and “Stardust” on the first half of the album, or the absolutely gorgeous closing pair of “The Last Farewell” and “Far Above the Boiling Sea of Life” – there are so many chill-inducing moments of transcendent beauty across the album’s 38-minute run time that it’s impossible to keep track of them all.
Stardust is an incredibly special album – easily the best I’ve heard in this style since Woods of Desolation released As the Stars back in 2014. If (like me) you like your black metal to be pretty and kind of sad, you are going to fall hard for Stardust right from the moment you hit play on the stream below.
Stardust will be available digitally and on CD on March 25 from Black Lion Records. Snag your preorder here.