Few genres in metal embody that avant-garde spirit better than drone doom, a movement more or less created by Seattle, Washington’s Earth. Led by Dylan Carlson, Earth turned conventional song structure on its head, and created music that focused more on texture and atmosphere. Many bands have followed suit (Sunn O))) being one famous example) and many of those bands have even pushed the genre into even more exciting (or strange, depending on your perspective) territory. One such artist is Denmark’s one-man project, Sol, who has been terrorizing listeners since 2007.
Sol’s latest release, The Storm Bells Chime, is easily one of the moodiest pieces of music I’ve listened to in a while. On tracks like “Greet The Dawn (For F)” and “Ascending To The Embrace Of Clouds,” I am reminded of drone artists like Sunn O))) and Wolvserpent, particularly with the minimalist guitar arrangements. Guitars plod along at a tectonic pace, with low, crushing notes coupled with higher-pitched notes that add a slight melody, couple with jazz-influenced piano splashes, and an almost industrial-style rhythm pulsing behind the wall of sound. One thing setting Sol apart, however, is the inclusion of vocals, which range from burly yelling (I picture a drunken lumberjack howling in the woods) to monk-like chanting style vocals (the most melodic aspect of the music) and even some deep Attila Csihar-style whispering. “From Every Orifice Of The Abyss” is a haunting piano driven piece, with sung vocals similar to The Great Annihilator-era Swans, and shows how good Sol is at moving from raging tunes to quieter, more introspective songs.
I can honestly say, after listening to The Storm Bells Chime, that I feel the urge to delve deeper into Sol’s back-catalogue, which is a testament to how impressive this album really is. Moody, moving, and at times terrifying, The Storm Bells Chime is an avant-garde, droning beast of an album. If you like a little more adventure in your listening experience, give Sol an hour of your time, and the rewards will be plenty!