Review by Sonny for Sun of the Blind - Skullreader (2009) Review by Sonny for Sun of the Blind - Skullreader (2009)

Sonny Sonny / July 04, 2019 / 0

To be honest upon first listen I wasn't especially impressed with Skullreader. However, each time I've returned to it it has dug it's claws deeper into me and now I think it has finally "clicked". To be sure it isn't an "immediate" listen and it certainly doesn't grab you like Zhaaral's Darkspace bandmate, Wintherr's Paysage d'Hiver work does (and in truth it isn't really on the same level as Paysage d'Hiver, but then again, not a lot is).

Anyway, back to the release on hand and what Zhaaral has served up is a hybrid of melodic and atmospheric black metal with some occasional, brief post-metal-ly sections. There is a fair predominance of keyboards present, but they aren't at all overbearing or cloying and are very tastefully incorporated into the overall sound. I have seen the album compared to Blut Aus Nord and that is a fitting comparison I feel, especially when compared to the Memoria Vetusta series (although, again, it isn't on the same level of accomplishment). The layers of guitar and synth build an all-enveloping ambience that does allow for some nice mental pictures to flow. Lord of Mind, for example, with it's slower pacing feels like a journey through a huge abandoned alien city.

I initialy disliked the fact that the vocals are buried in the mix, but have actually grown to enjoy that aspect, as the fact that you have to strain a little to hear them properly makes it feel like a voice is reaching out between dimensions or across the veil between life and death to impart some profound insight. This is not merely an album built on atmosphere though, it also has some quite cool riffs, Fire and Thirst for example, which also has some nice Middle-Eastern influenced guitar work and Vanitas whose main riff sounds imperious.

Overall a very good album, albeit one that takes a bit to get into, but one that is worth persevering with. May not ultimately stack up against his more celebrated colleague's back catalogue, or his original band's output, but I would have welcomed hearing further releases from this project to see where they may have led. As it stands however, Sun of the Blind is a one-shot deal so presumably Zharaal has scratched whatever creative itch he may have been feeling within Darkspace, for now at least.

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