The duo behind Sunwølf haven’t been creating music as this project for all too long, with their first record Beyond The Sun coming out less than two years ago, yet these two gents are far from strangers and their musical lineage goes back much further than 2012s initial offering.
Beholden To Nothing and No One is an incredibly dense record and the double disc format serves to separate the harsher, heavier tones of the band from the more ambient structures that they are capable. Each side has its own feel, language and sound and it’s truly astonishing that so much work has fallen from the minds of only two people. The record begins with the gorgeous “In The Darkened River I Found The Silence Loom” with Sunwølf incorporating vocals on their music for the first time.
Here Tiffany Ström of MYYTHS gives a melancholy life to a wonderfully constructed piece that wraps sorrowful strings around dreamy progressions that allow a delicacy to fall into place before “Vultures Crown” breaks the calm of “The Widows Oil.” Ben Corkhill of BongCauldron lends his huge voice to deeply sludgy tracks in the aforementioned song as well as the massive “The Wake of Leviathan” – both working against the initial steps of this record and attaining a wildly different sound yet somehow flowing with the movement of the album and giving it a coherent taste despite the differences. It’s testament to Sunwølf’s talent that they can switch their tone so much yet still sound like the same band.
The album’s title track gently moves and pushes with fragile guitar notes building around subtle keys while the song takes on an affecting tone, constantly shifting to the next moment of heartache before giving way to a perfectly placed sample from the film Network. It speaks of truth and the trials of giving yourself over to that truth, speaking it and the difficulty we have in hearing it. “Beholden To Nothing and No One” allows Sunwølf to shine in their composition and the track is distinctly their own. The final piece on this first side of Beholden To Nothing and No One is the mournful “Heathen’s Rest” which features Tiffany Ström’s breathy vocal approach once again. It harks back to the first enough to link the two and bridge the music heard so far and it wraps around the heart in ever constricting bands of pain. There’s beauty in the sadness heard here and the touch of saxophone adds colour and depth to an already impressive work. The record is huge in scope yet nothing feels as though it’s been rushed or used to fill time. There’s a lot to be heard on Beholden To Nothing and No One but it all feels necessary and completely truthful.
“Twelve Sunne” begins the second half of the record on droned out landscapes of repetition before “Come O Spirit, Dwell Among Us” takes a trip into the unknown. Curious waves of sound rebound from mechanical strikes and spin out into the building walls of feedback that are issued forth by Sunwølf. It’s in stark contrast to the serenity of “Heathen’s Rest” and the following “Symptoms of Dearth” take us further still. The rich saxophone tones make another appearance but this time the track isn’t as full of grief as its predecessor. Instead a moodiness settles over the work that continues into the pores of “Lotus Island” and carries it with layered chants and cracks of guitar.
The enchantingly haunting “Of Darknesse” closes out Beholden To Nothing and No One with ethereal movements that evoke a sense of fragility and give the record a final, tender emotion. Such subdued colours haven’t been heard as yet but Sunwølf take on the task with grace. Beholden To Nothing and No One is monolithic in its expanse and Sunwølf have created a work that moves with a tangible warmth. The hardness of life is offset with grief, peace and calm allowing the band to work through many different stages of emotion and breathe life into each with equal measure and confidence.
Beholden To Nothing and No One can be pre-ordered here, ahead of its June 30 release date.