Late last year this duo from Leeds wowed us with their solid debut of slow desert sludge and mature sense of composition. With such a quick turn-around on the follow-up, one had to wonder if the B-sides were coming. But Midnight Moon is such an essential component to Sunwølf’s binary star system of albums that, along with Beyond The Sun, they behave like a double album. Both are great.
As with the debut, the heavier tracks come in the first half, but Midnight Moon simply sounds bigger. The production is crisper. The drums are louder, with more noticable fills and flourish. There is a lot of momentum for a band that takes its cues from bands like Earth and Sleep. “Prey To Melancholy” bleeds heavy, with monstrous riffs and bass guitar taking a leading role in dropping the doom. On “Breach” the band chugs into Isis territory. After this song’s delicate beginning, the curtain is drawn to reveal a caged metal bull waiting to be released into the ocean. In other words, you know the eruption is coming long before it does.
Still, while listening, there is a sense of being taken care of, of being held. Never is the distortion out of control; everything is measured. Clean guitars are presented with such audio clarity (think Earth’s Bees Made Honey…) that it is easy to feel we are always in the right place, a pleasing attribute of popular music. Sunwølf could be the first doom pop band in existence! Even in the more ethereal back third, the haze is more of a clear, daytime ritual rather than a lawless opium den. The pair of “Plateau” tracks signify that this band is not just in it for the loud guitars but for the total album experience. The textures Sunwølf come up with are most engaging with topographic drumming, moonlit guitars, and a soft thunderhead of perpetual distortion that would make witnessing an asteroid hit the earth seem pleasant.
The reversed piano notes of the hypnogogic finale “Glacier River” suggest twilight is here, and it’s time to play Beyond The Sun again. Without having advertised it, Sunwølf have created a truly cyclical pair of albums where one inevitably begets the other. They share a style and a narrative arc where the pummel preceeds the peace and peyote, and this is their appeal. Sunwølf makes its music sound effortless. As before, we are amazed how a band so fresh on the scene can sound so polished. (Nayt Keane)