Monday, April 30, 2012

Album Review: The Sun Explodes - Emergence

Album Rating: B
Of all things I've reviewed this year so far, The Sun Explodes is quite possibly the most unique. The English band brings together a few different genres, focusing on a combination of post-metal, hard rock, and progressive rock with touches of electronic influencing and pushing their music beyond the threshold of skin-deep interest, and really probing their way into deep, dark, unsettling music. Emergence brings a lot of fast, aggressive, and powerful aspects to their record, and the way they put their lyrics forefront is incredibly unique on a post-metal album, even more so with metal growls being a prominent part of those vocals. It's a cool experience with being able to hear Dave Maclachlan singing brightly and clearly, instead of maybe just addled screams in the background, or being drowned out by everything else going on. It's a fantastic, heavy album that really earns the exhilarating live reviews that people love to post with the recent tour The Sun Explodes went on.

From the moment this album starts, it seriously pushes the limits with speed and strength. The opener builds a fast, dark guitar-centered rhythm, with electronic elements like synth beats helping push faster and more intensely, until an open, epic, Muse-esque synth begins to blare piercing arpeggios, walls of harsh sound pounding into the listeners ears, choir vocals forcing an oppressive chaos, until the song ends and strings lead quickly into "Honour Bound," simply another track laden with aural ascendancy.

"Line One" is a very cool track, for a lot of reasons. Firstly, the song sends a clear, vocal message of loss, fear, and compunction through Maclachlan's vocals, as he sings "Throw down your guns / And follow; I will not fight / You say that I let you down / This is my last regret", as an emotionally burdened buildup lies in wait in the background, letting loose after a quick drum fill, sending everything into chaos. Secondly, the band actually fills gaps where fills are needed with instrumental licks, indicating a possible metal influence for the song, and this provides a magnitude of brute force that is really cool to listen to and think about. Thirdly, the breakdown towards the tail end of the song provides a fantastic outro, also pulling from metal-based sources. An arpeggiating synth pushes the rhythm, with riffing guitars providing backbone, and seriously emotional chords scream, adding depressive white noise that adds to the crushing atmosphere of the breakdown. It's a beautifully written passage that assails the ears and encroaches the emotions, leaving the listener vulnerable, and stricken.

Interestingly enough, though the vocals were a fantastic addition, I think they were also one of the weakest parts of this album. They took a while to get used to, and I was confused at the addition of auto-tune during "We're Not Soldiers". That must have been an aesthetic quality they were trying to dispose with the natural vocals they had with other songs, but to me, that was just an artistic failure. In addition, weird high-pitched echo vocals on tracks like "Resplendence" were just over the top. They didn't belong at all, and they were weird, and stood out for a while, until I was able to look past my initial impression and accept how they fit with the integrity of the musical style of the song. Despite how much I'm criticizing the album, though, I really do love what was created on this nine-song debut. The instrumental side was fantastic, and more than made up for some weird vocal spots. I really hope they go on tour again, because it's disappointing missing out on that, and after hearing the album, I think it'd be a perfect live album. Metal fans, post-rock fans, post-metal fans, and prog-metal fans rejoice, for this is something that you can share with one another, and all appreciate with one another. This cross-genre beauty has plenty to give, and it's really worth taking up that offer.

Take a look at their MySpace and their FaceBook for some of their music.

Track Listing:
1) Emergence
2) Honour Bound
3) Second Sight
4) Resplendence
5) We're Not Soldiers
6) Ignition
7) Line One
8) Pandemonium
9) Dead / Alive


  1. Many thanks for your lovely review Mat! Do hope you get the chance to see us live at some point :) Al, TSE x

  2. Read the reviw, saw them live - well worth it!!!! :)