Sunken - Livslede

Funnily enough, I remembered that Sunken were preparing a second album about a month ago when I was browsing through a record store in a city near here and found not their debut Departure, but their first demo The Crackling of Embers, originally released independently in 2013 but re-released through Vendetta Records on vinyl in 2018. The Danish band have already come a long way and left a deep mark in 2017 with Departure, which might have not get the exposure it deserved but still featured some of the best atmospheric black metal of the recent years. 

A turn has been taken to their native tongue with Livslede compared to their first full length album, which also has a elegant, beautiful cover that has been drained of all color. This goes along with the conceptual approach of the record, which paints a picture about the world that is rather helpless and desperate, often making references to the natural elements (storms, the vast sea) to correlate with living life. In these bleak lyrics, it feels like the protagonist is not trying to avoid the suffering but find the meaning in going through it, while contemplating death as the final cleansing towards peace of mind.

Musically, Sunken hit hard and at the same levels as with Departure, with a marvellous sound that efficiently combines potent atmospheric black metal and elements of post-rock / post-metal, the latter being more obvious in the track "Delirium" and the second part of "Foragt". There, the band has created a small partition to Livslede that slightly strays from the more direct black metal sound they have in the rest of the album, but this will most likely go unnoticed due to the overall fantastic flow. The production is clear and apart from the long guitar lines, aching vocals and synths, credit ought to be given to the audible and neat bass work.

Since I rarely find merit in such instrumental introductions to such records, I skip them more often that I would like. Not the case with Livslede, as the touching introduction "Forlist" with deep, echoing piano opens the album, immediately setting the stage and hooking up the listener, it properly directs the attention to what Sunken is about to present and works exactly as what an introduction piece should. Of course, it gives way to the album's highlight "Ensomhed", which shoots all that Sunken can do in top-notch fashion, and it there's one piece you have to listen to from Livslede, this is it.

"Dødslængsel" is as capable of closing the record as was the "Forlist" of opening it, swinging back and forth from middle-paced thrilling melodies to fast-paced atmospheric black metal, and ending with a melancholic clean guitar / ambient outro. It's now two quality albums in a row for Sunken, which should make the fans of atmospheric black metal keep and note and look out of this band's movements from now on. Livslede is a well-written and emotional album, without falling in the disease of being corny, as sadly several bands in this sub-genre of black metal.

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