Written by: The Voiceless Apparition
There is darkness within all of us; it doesn't matter who you are. Rather, it all matters on how you handle it. Some resort to writing lyrics, painting, or various other art forms. Unfortunately some pick more destructive means. Sojourner does the former, using melancholy as a tool to add to their already highly atmospheric blend of black metal and folk metal. Premonitions marks the third album from the international atmospheric metal band, and their first album on new label Napalm Records. Do they succeed in expanding their darker and more melancholy emotions on this album? Let us begin.
"The Monolith" begins on a grand note. We are greeted to the gorgeous vocals of guitarist/clean vocalist Chloe Bray, who's voice really helps add to the scope of this tune. You are transported to a vast open field with the music taking you by the hand and comforting you on your journey.
"Eulogy of the Lost" is where the album the album really starts to shine. It's melancholy bliss. The atmosphere is so dense in this song that you can't help but feel every sort of emotion brought forth in the instrumentation. The melodies are so painful but in a strange way quite bright too. A marriage of juxtaposing ideas that gels really well together. The tin whistle is used to great effect as well, giving the song more breath, same goes for it's use on the entire album. A highlight on the album for sure.
"The Apocalyptic Theatre" ramps up the black metal influences even more, with the opening being a barrage of tremolo-picking riffs and weeping melodies. The dynamics in this song are amazing, switching between icy cold grimness and bright and shimmering rays of sunshine. I also need to add that the ending melody in this song is absolutely gorgeous, it really strikes deep into my heart. Speaking of: "Talas" is an similarly gorgeous song. The piano line is absolutely beautiful and Chloe Bray's vocals on this song are the highlight. Easily her best vocal performance to date. The band eventually joins in with main vocalist Emilio Crespo complimenting Chloe's vocals with his beastly growls and howling shrieks.
"Fatal Frame" begins the second half of the album on an extremely strong note. The opening piano line is breathtaking, calmly walking you through the first two minutes before the band kicks in. This is definitely the most full-on black metal song on the album. Drummer Riccardo Floridia begins the song with a classy tom roll before exploding into skull-crushing blast-beats. I need to give praise to guitarists Mike Lamb and Chloe Bray because I love the way their guitar styles compliment each other throughout the album, but especially on this song. One member does the heavier more metallic riffs and the other plays the spine-chilling melodies. A fucking fantastic song. Following this number, "The Deluge" continues on the ascent. This song returns to the more triumphant note, but the darkness still lurks in the corner. I love everything about this song: the vocals, the melodies, the riffs, and the lyrics. You are completely engulfed in the atmosphere of this song and you aren't able to escape until the 7 minutes and 17 seconds are over. I have to make special note of the ending of the song because I adore it. The last verse of the song really hits me hard because it's so darkly poetic. Vocalist/lyricist Emilio Crespo shrieks out the verse: "The ink begins to dry out. The chronicle concludes. Nothing more left to say. I vanish from existence". Absolutely haunting line, it really hits me so hard.
"Atonement" is heavier in tone. The atmosphere still reigns in this song but the riffs start to take center stage in this tune. It's also a little bit more "groovy" so to speak, but still sounds very much like them. It's a good song, but I just wish there was a little bit more going on. Still enjoyable to listen to though. "The Event Horizon" ends the album on a very dark and mysterious note. The keyboard line is quite interesting, to me it has an almost ambient/electronic tonality to it. The melodies are much more memorable as well. With this song, you can feel the darkness suffocate you, pressing down harder and harder. I also love the inclusion of the Gregorian-like chants and male clean vocals too, it adds even more depth to an already densely layered song. The last verse of the song is absolutely heartbreaking and really ends on a fucking devastating note. "Awaiting an eternal scorn, shades of black begin to take form. A waning breath that can only mutter one final thought... why?" concludes the album on a somber note.
...And just like that, the 56 minutes of this album are over.
I have to take special note on the album's production because unfortunately it suffers a little bit. For one, it's a little bit too clean for my tastes. Also, the mix on the vocals is a little unbalanced. On some songs the vocals are really high in the mix, but on others the vocals are buried in the mix. This is not too detrimental to the enjoyment of the album, but I need to be honest and fair.
When most bands talk about how an album is their "darkest and heaviest yet" I tend to take that with a grain of salt. It's such a stereotypical thing to say because most of the time those claims underwhelm. But with Premonitions, Sojourner backed up those claims. This album is significantly darker than anything they've ever done before. This is also such a dense album. It's an album that takes multiple listens as this is not a catchy album filled with arena-ready choruses but it's a deeply rich, emotional , and atmospheric album that takes you on a journey. While I wouldn't say that this is a masterpiece, it's still a highly enjoyable listen and flows really well actually. I really like the direction that Sojourner are going in, they are so extraordinarily talented. Please don't read my opinion wrong, I still highly recommend this album. They deserve all of the recognition they are getting, and for what it's worth, they seem like such extremely nice people too. If you are into dense, emotional, atmospheric, and melancholy music, please check this album out and go support the band! Sojourner, I tip my hat to you.
Sojourner - Premonitions was released May 8th from Napalm Records
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!