Post metal is an ambiguous term. Ask three people what the genre is and you are likely to get three different answers. The genre covers such a huge array of styles that its very legitimacy has come under scrutiny from the metal world. Perhaps one could argue that the post metal style does not exist, instead the term is often used to describe progressive, sludge and Black
metal bands that have elements from post rock and shoegazing amongst other genres. Therefore it seems that post metal is a continuation of a genres original blue print, and therefore is more of an idea rather than a concrete musical form. In the general eye of the metal public post metal loosely defines bands such as Cult of Luna
and most importantly Neurosis
. Based on that, post metal comes to define doom and post hardcore/sludge metal bands that have elements from non metal genres such as post rock and ambient. This is where the term “atmospheric sludge metal” has come into prominence in order to better define post metal. Indeed, many of the bands associated with the sludgy post metal scene have ties to the hardcore/post hardcore scene. Harshly yelled vocals and dissonant chords torn directly out of a hardcore book are often used by bands of this caste, and therefore post metal comes to define metallic hardcore bands with elements from post rock. However, this leaves out countless of other bands such as Alcest
who, whilst often classified as post metal have zero connections to the hardcore scene. Post metal therefore is rather a progression of the original traits of a genre rather than a distinctive sound.
By using this definition, then A Sun That Never Sets
certainly fits the criteria. At its heart this is a sludge metal album. Harshly screamed vocals, abrasive guitars, slow tempos, a thick overbearing atmosphere, all the criteria for what sludge metal is can be applied to this album. However this is far from typical sludge as there is far more going on here than what such a genre label would typically entail. The songs are often long and drawn out with expansive instrumental passages. The post rock elements are present in how the songs flow, with each song having a strong sense of forward momentum; they twist and turn running through multiple transitions. Each song is often centered around a slow and gradual build up before a sudden release of energy. Whilst this aspect of song writing is often overused, Neurosis
adds a fresh take on it by mixing a number of different elements into their music. The instrumental sections are long and exhausting, they are suitably bleak and unimaginably dreary conjuring up images of a decaying urbanized world. The metallic sections are rough and abrasive, with a sense of anger that comes across as primal and desperate.
Scott Kelly isn’t the best vocalist I’ve heard but his voice suits the atmosphere of A Sun That Never Sets
. He sounds just as you’d expect someone suffering through crippling depression to sound; angry, frightened, tired, exhausted and hopeless. His voice carries a massive amount of emotion and when mixed in with the poetic and powerful lyrics the sound is enhanced tenfold. All aspects of the album come together to form an image of being weary of life, there’s not much energy behind the music, even the harder sections are suitably tired and languid. Going on what I’ve described so far the reader may be led to expect something boring and uninteresting, referring to this album as tired will undoubtedly send signals off in all the wrong places. Yes, this album is tired, but it works with it. What I mean is that whilst it might feel apathetic on first glance, it’s easy to get sucked into the dreary and even detached atmosphere of this album. It takes a while to get into this album, I’ll admit it took me about a dozen before it managed to sink in. This is not an easy album and I really can’t stress that enough. A Sun That Never Sets
is an album for people who are looking for music that’s deep, atmospheric and takes a while to fully sink into. Don’t be discouraged if this album doesn’t sit right on the first few listens, this is an album that is more than just a grower, this is an album so steeped in complexity that one could find new elements with each subsequent listens. Going on that, this could be one of the most entertaining or boring albums you’ve heard in your life, make of that what you will.