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One of the best modern black metal releases - 95%

SROCeallaigh, August 27th, 2012

More recently I have come to the same conclusion of Varg Vikernes and Fenriz that the vast majority of black metal is not worth bothering with - most is unoriginal, does not come close to understanding what black metal is supposed to be about, and usually suffers from one of two extremes - nauseatingly polished production or amateurish bedroom-level production and musicianship.

Sunwheel, however, are something can the influences of Burzum, and, given the dark symphonic nature, probably early Emperor as well, but they are clearly a talented and original band in their own right...

I don't shy away from checking out national socialist black metal bands but most sound awful, and have idiotic lyrics...Sunwheel stand head and shoulders above the rest, the deep genuinely hate-filled vocals sound great (perhaps influenced by the early work of countrymen Behemoth?), the lyrics do suffer somewhat from broken English but given the subject matter I actually think the lyrics are surprisingly good despite the dodgy grammar and are often very poetic...It's not your usual cretinous NS "I want to bum Hitler" stuff, there is a lot of pagan nostalgia in there (as illustrated by the beautiful synth intro not too dissimilar to their other band Kataxu), and as is crucial in True Black Metal there is loads of genuine hatred and rage in here, disdain for weakness and corrupting organized religion, so they remain true to the black metal philosophy in my view, which is arguably easier to pull off from a less politically correct hateful background not interested in agreeing with mass opinion or in following any trends...

The music itself and the riffs are as good and ferocious as the vocals, and the, in comparison to Kataxu, more subtle atmospheric synths fit perfectly...I don't think that black metal should rely on synths too much (Mayhem and Darkthrone have proved over and over again that it's possible to create an incredible, grim as Hel atmosphere with no keyboards whatsoever), but like Emperor's first album and the similarly subtle synths on Burzum's 1993-4 work, the synths are there to compliment the music and enrich the atmosphere without overpowering it and making it sound too campy (countless bands like Dimmu Borgir don't seem to get this)

Overall a fantastic EP, consistent from start to finish though the high point for me is the title track probably which builds up to an amazing, atmospheric climax...shame their first full length album did not really come close to its brilliance but suppose the latest Kataxu album more than makes up for that (also fantastic by the way, check it out too)