October 21, 2012 by Dan Swinhoe
When I think of Yorkshire metal, the bands that come to mind are generally pretty harsh on the old ear-hole. Rolo Tamassi, Evile, Bring Me the Horizon, Northern Oak, just to name a few, all make the kind of music to attack goalkeepers to, and leave behind a nice helping of tinnitus after each listen. So it was pretty surprising to hear about a Drone band from merry old Leeds.
But Sunwølf are exactly that; a two-piece instrumental band made up of Dominic Deane (drums/organ) and Matthew Carrington (guitar/samples), who according to the accompanying PR, are DIY underground veterans. Underground as they may be, their debut, Beyond The Sun, boasts some heavyweight credentials behind the sound desk. The duo recorded the album with Ross Halden (Wild Beasts/Rolo Tomassi) and was mastered by Mell Dettmer, whose CV includes drone legends including Sunn O))), Earth, Sleep and Boris.
Opening with Genesis, feedback slowly (a recurring word with drone bands) builds the layers, picked notes and sparse drums add to the snail’s pace atmosphere. Feeding directly into Solar, we’re given another hypnotic display of rhythmic restraint, one that slowly builds in speed (almost to a saunter) before fading away.
Sunwølf have delivered an accomplished debut. While there’s nothing Earth shattering about the album (aside from all the feedback) there’s very little wrong with it. Beyond The Sun sits firmly in the ambient part of the drone spectrum. It’s a record for late night introspective beard-stroking, or post-gig relaxation.
There are times when they deliver some excitement. Moroseland opens with a solid drumbeat and the kind of aggressive fuzz Baroness used to deliver. But for the most part it’s only snippets of full-on stoner and doom that pepper was is mostly an ethereal haze. Minimalism is the name of the game throughout, tracks such as Time Stands Still and Home swim around the room, perpetuating a chilled, swamp-like mood.
The influence of big names like Earth, Sun O))), Isis can easily be felt, and that’s probably why Sunwølf’s sound invokes images of American deserts and Southern Lord records than of Leeds’ urban sprawl. But that’s no bad thing. At 26 minutes, the seven tracks on offer don’t outstay their welcome, and while it doesn’t as one of the most memorable or exciting releases of the year, it one that’s easy to listen to again and again.