Artwork by Emil Underbjerg
Most probably this review is kind of late to the party (and there will be some more) simply because this is a brand new website and I didn't want to let this release pass without a write up. So it maybe a late review, on this site it's the first one.
Sunken is a 5 piece Atmospheric Black Metal band, hailing from Denmark, formed in 2012. Livslede has been released in September 2020and is their second album following their debut Departure from 2017. Its five tracks have an overall playing time of a bit over 43 minutes.
The short intro track "Forlist" is a soft, melancholic piece of a simple piano melody, accompanied by a broody ambience and the sound of lapping water against some wooden objects. This short quiet piece does not only open the album, but sets the atmosphere, connects you with images of the sea and water and turns your focus on what's to come.
Once connected to this imagery everything that follows seems like a desperate struggle not to drown. At times the sound is low, subdued and muffled eliciting sensations of being under water and everything is drenched in a dark and cold atmosphere.
There's an ethereal, gleaming, glimmering guitar sound as a predominant and channeling agent from which the furious Black Metal moments emerge as well as the paths into atmospheric realms and the ever propelling and at at times percussive drums are essentially involved in creating moments of changes and twists.
The following two songs "Ensomhed" and "Foragt" are basically structured in several build ups with dramatic changes, shifting of moments of Black Metal fury and ambient moods, yet the intensity as a whole constantly rises, evoking feelings that revolve around the theme of pain and horrors that life itself imposes on us. Between loneliness and sadness, hope flares up now and again, but despair, self hate and contempt drowns all this hope to enhance the pain instead.
Especially "Ensomhed" is full of these dramatic changes and charged with a wild mix of confusing emotions, whereas "Foragt" is a bit more focused on the aggressive moments, with abrasive shrieking and demonic vocals, tremoloes, blast beats and everything you'd expect to hear in Black Metal, and therefore it resonates much with the more aggressive feelings.
"Delirium" is strongly characterized by an ambient foundation, with a backbone of a steady drum rhythm, in a minimalistic fashion at first, but becoming more intense and hypnotic with each beat, adding elements. Synth ambience grows like flesh around this backbone, creating a dreamy, gloomy, unreal atmosphere and in a slow burning huge build up the song soars up into crushing Black Metal and so crushes the last hope for relief and healing the world of sleep and dreams might bring .
"Dødslængsel" finally brings back the abrasive aggression mixed with the ambience of seething ethereal choir-like guitars that peaks in a crescendo of 100% wet reverb and then closes with a soft and quiet acoustic guitar melody and the same ripping, swaying water sounds from the intro track. "Dødslængse"l bears the cathartic release that leads from despair into a deep melancholic tranquility and it manifests the knowledge we learned from Delirium that only death will heal the pain of life, and peace can only be found in nothingness.
The stylistic dress of Livslede is plain and unpretentious and it lets the sublime structures and textures shine all the more, those of each single song as well as those that shape the whole album to take us on this extremely emotional journey. The soft and quiet acoustic sounding moments, mostly building the transitions between the songs have an almost meditative quality and work perfectly well to set your focus and prepare you for the next intoxicating, swirling torrent of emotions. And these emotions feel pure and bare and they show a fragility that is vulnerable and powerful at the same time. With Livslede Sunken created an album that bestows majestic grandeur and beauty on pain and despair and with an overwhelming emotional impact on the listener.