Second to Sun – Legacy

This is a bit of a mix-up today. I hadn’t originally planned to write about this album. In the list of 30 albums for the 30 days of November, this wasn’t on the list, simply because it hadn’t been released yet. But now it has been released, and I simply must write about it.

Second to Sun hail from Russia, and their music is deeply rooted in their country. Songs often take themes from Russian history of folk-lore, and just as often, incorporate sounds that strengthen that tie. And they have been incredibly prolific over the years. Starting out as an instrumental band, they have added lyrics and vocals over the years, broadening their sound. But they still hold close to their instrumental roots, as all of their past few albums have had both an instrumental and a vocal release. Most interestingly, they are such excellent writers, that the two versions feel like separate, wholly realized compositions, not just one version with the vocals stripped away.

Deeply rooted in black metal, but playing around with a host of other elements, including some death metal, so groove based riffs and passages, and always willing to allow the music to progress, Legacy is no different.

Let me just start off by saying, this album freaking rules. I’ve been listening to it almost nonstop for the past 3 days, and it is infectious, addictive, and has a real shot at being in the top 10 list of the year for me. I won’t bore with a track by track discussion, but I will say that there isn’t a weak song here. Some are straight up bludgeoning tracks (opener “Devil” comes to mind). Others alternate, building tension with keyboards and orchestrations, giving the songs room to breath and become more than weapons (“Pages For A Manuscript” for example).

Calling the vocals harsh is like calling ghost peppers “spicy”. Talk about understatement. These vocals could strip the paint right off your deck and sand it at the same time. They are raw, powerful, and uncompromising. But they fit the music so well. This is music written by people who know what they want to do and how to use those tools to make it happen. Instrumentally, there are no drawbacks to be found. The music is frenetic, it is brutal, it is atmospheric, it is haunting.

Second to Sun don’t write music to relax to. This isn’t casual music. It is heavy, it is harsh, and I can imagine that it would be too much for people without some degree of comfort with heavy music. But it is also brilliantly written and performed, and an impressive demonstration of just how vital and important black metal has become as a sub-genre. Far from the church burning roots, Second to Sun clearly demonstrate on Legacy that black metal is simply a tool, and they are using to bring a haunting piece of Russia right into your ear-holes.

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