Review: Stardust by Soul Dissolution

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Ben Serna-Grey shares his thoughts on the upcoming sophomore album from Belgian atmospheric black metal band Soul Dissolution. Fans of Agalloch, Katatonia, and Alcest should get on this.

Stardust is the second full-length album by the Belgian duo Soul Dissolution, coming out on Black Lion Records March 25th. Soul Dissolution is the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist and composer, Jabawock, stage name of Boris Iolis, who has other work in the groups Ah Ciliz, L’Hiver en Deuil, and Marche Funèbre under his belt, and that past experience shows in this record. Credit should also be given to Acharan (L’Hiver en Deuil, Sarin), who has taken up the mantle of lead vocals for the project since its beginning in 2012.

Stardust starts out with a short orchestral intro, “Vision,” to set the mood, which I’m happy to say uses very high-quality sampling. While orchestral musicians are deservedly expensive to hire, few things turn me off more than when orchestral intros sound like they’re being played on an ‘80’s Casio keyboard. Vision leads into “Circle of Torment”, the track that truly shows you what Stardust is all about.

The album has a very reverential and awe-struck mood, staying mostly in major modes and overwhelming you with a bright wall of sound. It’s the musical equivalent of standing on a mountain after a hike, and you reach the top just in time to see the sun set and the stars begin to show themselves and coalesce into rivers of light looking down on the trees. It’s gorgeous, strange as it feels to say that about a black metal record. One of the few drawbacks shows its face, though, as a few songs in it becomes clear Jabawock tended to stick to a similar tempo and riff style, with only a few things to break up the pattern here and there, such as the interlude “Mountain Path,” which gives a nice break to take a breath of fresh air in the middle of the album.

The final track, “Far Above the Boiling Sea of Life”, is a glorious and triumphant piece of melodic and atmospheric black metal, staying in a major mode the entire time, and packing a concentrated punch of the awe-struck vibe running throughout the entire record. The lead guitar line sings out strong and stays strong. Everything stays beautiful and reverent and solid right up until it suddenly ends at an unresolved half cadence (just go up a step, guys, then you’ll get an authentic cadence), then quickly and unceremoniously fades out. It makes the song feel more like a middle track that’s supposed to lead immediately to something else, rather than the beautiful and fantastic album closer it could and should have been.

That being said Stardust is pretty damn good, and I’m excited to see what Jabawock can do as his composition skills develop even more, and as Soul Dissolution has the support of a record label. I take it as a good sign when a record feels too short and has me wanting more. Definitely a band to keep on your radar.

4/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell

Stardust is out digitally and on CD digipack March 25th through Black Lion Records.


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