Review: Second To Sun – The First Chapter

Admit it – when you think of Russian music the first thing that springs to mind is shouty Cossack men bouncing up and down with big fuzzy hats on. Right? Well, today’s review will hopefully go some way to changing that image.

Second To Sun was created back in 2012 by guitarist Vladimir Klimov-Lehtinen and drummer Artem Vishnyakov and has steadily released material right from the start: 2012 EP ‘The God’s Favourite Whore’, 2013 full length ‘Based On a True Story’, another EP in 2014′ Three Fairy Tales’ and their second full length, the confusingly titled ‘The First Chapter’ in October 2015.

Founding member Klimov-Lehtinen is essentially now running the band as a one man project with help from other musicians, Theodor Borovski and Aleh Zielankievic. He is certainly a busy man as not only has he released a series of covers during the making of ‘The First Chapter’ (Slipknot’s ‘Purity’, Emperor’s ‘Ye Entrancemperium’ and a frankly fucking lethal version of Behemoth’s ‘Slaves Shall Serve’), but he has also just released brand new single ‘Ladoga Master’, which is not even on this album! The man must have music flowing through his veins – no wonder their motto is “music for the sake of music”…

So what exactly does said music actually sound like? Well, Second To Sun are an instrumental band – no, come back here and listen! They are influenced by black metal, modern metal and “ethnic Finno-Ugric” music – certainly nothing if not intriguing. The album opens with ‘Spirit of Kusoto’, all windswept intro and sudden towering blackened metal interspersed with bouts of electronica. It’s a daring amalgamation between two polar opposites but the combination works, somehow.

In truth, many of the songs have a somewhat schizophrenic nature: ‘Red Snow’, while being more immediate and full of face-shredding blackened metal, is also interspersed with moments of quite unhinged sounding synths, rather like a creepy talking doll. Then there’s ‘Me Or Him’ the gut-punching bass and juddering, chugging grooves mixed with eerie menacing synths. Or how about five minute epic ‘The Blood Libel’, which combines blackened metal with modern metal in effortless fashion – and then adds Eighties style synths? Again, it shouldn’t work – but it does.

It would seem that Second To Sun delight in being traditionally heavy yet inventive, riffy yet dainty, and at one point you will swear you heard a piccolo. They take the beauty of choirs, classical music and synthesisers and pitch them headlong into the ferocity of blackened metal, modern metal and even metalcore – take a listen to the blistering ‘Narcat’; it’s like if BMTH had started life as a black metal band before they began their transformation to their current sound.

So yes, Russian music can be – and is – more than the cliches would suggest. Second To Sun are wildly unpredictable, brain-rattlingly heavy and breathtakingly clever. Bet you weren’t expecting that!

Review by Melanie Brehaut

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