September seems to be the month of choice for atmospheric black metal albums. I have already discussed the first of these releases, Ellende’s Ellenbogengesellschaft, a gorgeous record that showcases what kind of powerhouse Ellende continues to be. In the case of another release, Belgian band Soul Dissolution are releasing their third album, Sora, an album I have been eagerly waiting for since their 2018 effort, Stardust.
Sora (Japanese for “sky”) is a five-track concept album about, yes, the sky, and aims to explore many of its facets, as these things and the celestial bodies that permeate it continue to captivate us. The music reminds me of a stripped-down version of Insomnium’s Argent Moon, as they have that same thematic, gloomy mood, but Soul Dissolution is quieter and softer, showing a sort of reverence towards the album’s theme. However, when they want to show emotion or focus on a specific musical passage, they are not afraid to become expansive and warm within that specific space. This is something I liked about Stardust, and I am happy that they brought this back to the forefront of their sound.
First track “SORA I”, the first part in a three-part vignette, evokes a new day, the main guitar melody floats before having the vocals and the drums come in. Although it remains a mostly instrumental track, with vocals coming in during the more emotional aspects of the song, the song is quite dynamic and moving, perfectly setting up the rest of the atmosphere of the album. Seemingly, the intent of “SORA I” is to show that the sky is thunderous, awe-inspiring, and something that must be respected. Although we continue to gaze at the stars and marvel at how the sky can change at a moment’s notice, we are still at its whim. It becomes more prominent as the album progresses; the music becomes more upbeat, placing more emphasis on vocals and galloping guitar riffs. This comes to a head on “The Absolving Tide,” where it becomes tempestuous and uses groove to convey the sky as a moving, breathing entity. This track showcases both a thunderstorm and rainfall, and it almost feels like the sky is screaming to be heard. It bellows and crackles in its space, its enormity looming over the listener. It’s expansive and abrasive in and it comes so out of left field. It is easily the highlight of the album, and I can’t help but be enthralled with it.
All in all, Sora is an astounding follow-up to Stardust. It is a deep, rich-sounding record that shows the kinds of strides Soul Dissolution is taking, and they still manage to combine aesthetic with music to create such a compelling record. I can’t wait to see what Soul Dissolution does next, and I am hopeful we don’t have to wait long for a new release.