Sojourner – “Premonitions” (Napalm Records)
A multi national band made up of members from Sweden, New Zealand, Scotland, USA and Italy, Sojourner have only been going for 5 years, but in that time they’re already onto their 3rd full length release in “Premonitions”. With a massive atmospheric feel to their music driven by huge, epic passion throughout and contrasted by black metal aggression in places, the band likewise employ dual female / male vocals to add serenity alternated by drama, along with a charming use of folk melodies and instrumentals. The sound is thick, maybe down to the band having 2 bassists(!) but it all works marvelously in providing the perfect backdrop to their higher, wailing guitars or the prelude to an ambient interlude. Clearly well thought out in every aspect, even the artwork has been pondered on so it’s with little surprise that “Premonitions” is intentionally a far darker release, brooding with plenty of melancholia while not lacking in mystery due to its complex arrangements and and not forgetting the abundant emotions conveyed through its diverse, musical beauty. Definitely an album to be appreciated by listening from start to finish even though the 8 unhurried tracks aren’t conceptually linked, it’s impossible not to forget Chloe Bray’s moving piano and blissful voice on ‘Talas’ as gentle pipes join in before Riccardo Floridia’s drums and cymbals provide the striking contrast, although nothing can prepare you when the dual bass and guitars suddenly power in along with Emilio Crespo’s harsh voice providing the powerful culmination to this captivating soundscape. Equally, the ambient pipe and synth harmony on ‘Fatal Frame’ is shattered early on by intense blast beating although the twin guitars of Bray and Mike Lamb continue to exude prominent melodic wails as Crespo drawls darkly in the background on this exciting, never ending weave of contrasting atmospheric passages and epic arrangements on this 8 1/2 minute wonder. Ending with ‘The Event Horizon’, the mix of charged guitars, synths and melancholic breaks along with Crespo’s hollow roars is as breathtaking as it is beautiful, enthralling you all the more as different melodies manifest while Bray offers her own femme screamo subtly in the background before giving way mid song to an emotional mix of synth and piano that when added to by Crespo’s power and the dramatic background vocals from the rest of the band, shatter your heart and soul completely. “Premonitions” is not only a masterfully told story, but an unparalleled emotional journey through melodies of dawn and an atmosphere of enshrouding darkness.