Farewell To The Sun, the debut full length from Canada’s Vow Of Thorns, is a self-released blackened doom effort (via the band’s own label, Forest Dweller Inc.) that highlights a deeply melancholy, yet agonisingly heavy, world view; the kind of album that should warm the cockles of the most devoutly dark heart!
Vow Of Thorns craft songs that embrace the expansive with elongated passages incorporating an almost ambient semi-acoustic vibe, awash with a progressive splendour that patiently builds in fervour before unleashing the more familiar tremolo riffs and ear-piercing raspy screams of traditional black metal. In fact, the perhaps expected icy black metal atmosphere is noticeably absent for the majority of this album, replaced with an indefinable warmth unassociated with metal’s most extreme sub-genre and at odds with the album’s title. That’s not to say Farewell To The Sun isn’t still black metal in essence – unconventional song structure, de-rigeur shrieking and a fairly lo-fi production are ever-present – but there’s far more about Vow Of Thorns than simple Emperor, Darkthrone and Mayhem worship.
Inspiration seemingly comes from all walks of metal. There’s even a Maiden-esque gallop on epic opener “Meeting On The Astral Plane”, Vow Of Thorns drawing from the giants of mainstream metal as well as the giants of the underground; in this case the early works of Katatonia and the back-to-nature feel of prime Agalloch.
While “Great Abomination” may adhere to black metal’s best practices – resulting in an insistent, pacy and ‘classic’ riff-filled experience – it’s when Vow Of Thorns stretch themselves on the accomplished “Farewell To The Sun Part I-III” and the 12 minute “Doomed Woods” that the album flies perilously close to perfection.
Just like their forefathers Woods Of Ypres and the aforementioned Agalloch, Vow Of Thorns prove particularly difficult to classify. Suffice to say, Farewell To The Sun is some of the most introspective black metal and most upbeat, yet somehow gloomy, blackened doom metal we’ve ever encountered. It captures your attention, alters your mood, plays tricks with your ideas of genre stereotyping and remorselessly plunges you into the dense no mans land occupied by this great band. 8/10