Sonance are a band I have been following for a while some of you may remember I already did a post on these guys however since that post they have released a few more records and I thought it was time to do an updated post on them. I decided that I was fairly happy with my original post so instead of doing a whole new post i decided to edit that one and continue as this post is from before the days of shorter write ups more music some of you may find this a bit expansive but i remember a bit of intense listening went into that post so I decided it was worth keeping.... (Note : If you have been to this post before then you can Scroll down to where it says UPDATE in green but if you haven't i would say you should read my write up of their debut album in order to understand what this band sound like) So let's begin
In 2014 I went to the first Temples Festival in Bristol it was a 3 day event and I went for the 2nd day only, which was basically the Post Metal/Crust day it's a long story for another time but I did not enjoy it really, overcrowded etc, I did catch some great sets but not half as many as i wanted to.The Fest started at 1pm and we travelled 3 hrs down the motorway to get there I had a list of bands I wanted to see and check out but this here band were not on my pre-show list that was until i got into the car!!! Our designated driver Mark was playing lots of GREAT music in the car but one particular band he played really grabbed my attention, I asked who they were and he said Sonance! Add another to the list then cos I REALLY liked what I heard on the stereo.
Sonance Hail from Bristol and from what I can gather have been together since around 2011 and released their stunning debut album "Like Ghosts" in 2012 and whilst this debut only has 2 tracks on it however these clock in at a mighty 22 mins and 18 minutes respectively there's no titles given just SIDE A & SIDE B so I assume that maybe these are 2 parts of a whole? They are however quite different.
Side A is an absolute sonic monster, opening with something that sounds like gentle violin it's a mere few seconds before you are crushed by a wall of guitar/noise/drums and vocals which is an intense and punishing assault of the type you'd expect to find on the heaviest of early SWANS or the peaks of songs from "Through Silver/Times Of Grace" era Neurosis, it's almost violent in it's sheer bludgeoning, however it breaks down into gentle strumming with a lighter touch quite quickly before you even realize you just had your head caved in and the record has only been on for about a minute and a half! There's so much to be had from this A side track i could break it down minute by minute but instead of boring you too much i will say that these guys are some very decent musicians with a grasp of dynamics that is often missing from many bands trying to do this post rock/post metal etc type music, there's Crushingly heavy parts tempered with some very well done guitar effects in the quieter moments that are highly reminiscent of Godspeed You Black Emperor and are also a truly beautiful listen. The song has quite a few peaks and troughs but for my money after the aforementioned quieter part the song begins to build again and when the heavy guitars kick back in they use a brilliantly beautiful riff that is as heavy and overwhelming as well as discordant and just achingly gorgeous! The vocals are also used as almost another instrument varying from quietly whispered to kinda shouted to just downright deep growling and anguished howls! The song ends as it began in a sheer avalanche of bottom end guitar noise and is left to fade out leaving me at least utterly stunned and wondering what the fuck just happened!
Side B is maybe quite unexpected considering the heavier parts of the A Side the majority of the song being built around various layers of guitar sounds,effects and techniques that produce a stunningly nice "drone" which puts me right in mind of someone like Stars Of The Lid. I think, but i couldn't say for definite that there's a bit of guitar bowing going on there as well, this gentle passage is left to fade quietly into what sounds like some field recording/found sounds which i originally thought was the sound of horses but upon repeated listening I'm not sure what it is, But it does add quite an eerie atmosphere to the track,this fades out to almost a silence before the heavy stuff comes in again, and again it's a bit like the first heavy part of the A side where it's almost oppressively heavy but this is again brief and breaks down to more post rock type instrumental passage before building again however they have used a neat little trick where the guitars whilst still heavy and twisted break into a quieter squall of noise and put the vocals to the forefront and the drummer starts pounding the toms like they are building to another crescendo and just as you think fuck this is intense, then all of a sudden it's over BOOM just like that! However it's a FAR from disappointing end to the journey!
Sonance were the big surprise of Temples Festival for me as my group all went into Bristol seeking food as a few of our party were not impressed by the Veggie/vegan caterers pulling out of the event at the last minute and even though I'm not Veggie the foul smelling meat products on sale were not in the least appealing! However i made everyone fucking swear we would be back to the fest in time to catch Sonance and we were and they played a phenomenal set!
This album though only containing 2 tracks albeit lengthy ones pack more into near 40 mins of music than many bands manage over double albums these guys have obviously done their homework and whilst would most definitely fall into the "heavy" spectrum of music they display a vast array of influences and are not afraid to take ideas that are not always part of this kind of music and run with them, this makes their album a refreshing, surprising and utterly destroying musical journey and I am so glad that Mark played them in the car because otherwise i'd still be blissfully unaware of them and would probably been supping pints in a Bristol pub whilst theses guys played! Also I would never have been here doing this write up and sharing this astounding music with you.
So this "to be updated" post has been languishing in the vault for quite some time and Sonance have had no less than 5 further releases since I decided this post needed updating,and the newest of those was nearly a year ago however I have given you a fairly in depth review of their first album which i feel captures the core elements of their sound not that they have not progressed in the 3 years since the original post but i feel to go as in depth with the rest of their releases would be a bit boring so I'm gonna try to keep the updates here shorter so let's Catch up....
Just after I did this post and published it in 2014 Sonance released their 2nd album "Blackflower" I had intended on updating this post then but as with my usual slackness it fell by the wayside I was initially not as impressed by this album and it took me a while to get into it however the rewards for my perseverance were most definitely worth it.. Opening piece "Blackflower / Belgium" clocks in at a mighty 15 minutes and continues their theme of achingly beautiful and quiet and building to brutally noisy and ugly!!! However this is the only piece on the album that follows this path, of the other 4 tracks 3 are more in the experimental/ambient/drone territory and mostly drumless these are all worthwhile pieces of the whole and there's no doubt it's a great chilled listen albeit a slightly dark one however they return to spectacular noisy form on 4th track "Conical" a dense and intense track which build layers of guitar noise to deadly effect. Ambient/drone type stuff isn't everyone's thing but after the epic opening 15 min track the less heavy pieces are refreshing and are all fairly short (around the 4 min mark) so it's worth your while to check out this stunning album as a whole.
In early 2016 Sonance recorded 10 tracks and released 9 of them over a split album with Torpor and a cassette only album entitled "Blister The Maw" These were later compiled together with a 10th unreleased track as "Split/Blister The Maw" on Third Rex records (You can download this full 10 track album at Third Rex bandcamp HERE or as the separate releases at Sonance's own Bandcamp which i will link below) For me these releases especially when compiled together and listened to as a whole were absolutely astounding Sonance having combined both their more experimental/ambient/drone styles with the dense crushing Post metal sound with absolute authority and showing a marked progression without straying too far from their template. Whilst it is worth going to Sonance Bandcamp and checking out the art and packaging of their Split with Torpor and The "Blister The Maw" tape I strongly suggest you go to the Third Rex Bandcamp link above and get the full 10 track session in one handy package not only at least to my mind anyway does it work better with the 10 tracks as a cohesive album if you Read on and you will see why i recommend downloading the 10 tracks instead of the separate releases....
Rounding off the Sonance Discography to date we Have a series of 2 "Companion" albums entitled "Mirror And Vie" these are most definitely in the experimental/ambient/drone camp but the intention is that these albums as well as being listened to in their own right are also intended to be played simultaneously with their counterparts (The first volume fits to their Like Ghosts/Blackflower albums and the second volume fits to the compilation CD of the Torpor Split/Blister releases hence why i recommended you download the full session above) in order to add an extra layer of dynamic and drama to what is already fairly dynamic and dramatic music!!! I have listened to both volumes of "Mirror and Vie" on their own I have yet to try playing them simultaneously with their counterparts so i can't say how well or not it works and they make for both a pleasant and often disturbing listen however these definitely fall into full ambient/experimental territory and if that's something you enjoy then i definitely recommend this but if you have the means I would definitely give playing them simultaneously, if you do please feel free to share your results in comments.
I can't stress enough how strikingly good and original this band are there's a huge scene for this kind of music and a lot of bands out there doing this kind of music but to me a vast amount of them just doing the quiet/crushing thing just bore me because there's no surprise or dynamics employed however Sonance are so skilled at both that if they chose to follow either musical path (that is all quiet or all loud) exclusively they would still be head and shoulders above the pack, If you like your music Heavy, considered and intelligent and like to be challenged by music rather than just placated by more homogenized riffs then you need this band in your life!
That's about all i have for your Re: Sonance they have been pretty quiet since last year but then they were pretty quiet after the release of "Like Ghosts" and now look at their impressive catalog!!! Below are links to their various sites and releases ALL of their music over the bandcamp pages is Buy Now/Name Your Price and all except the "Mirror And Vie" albums are available On Vinyl or the appropriate physical format so if you can afford it show them some support by paying a little for the download or buying some physical releases. I have just checked and unfortunately it would appear all the CD versions are sold out but i have linked you to their facebook page perhaps try contacting the band see if they have any spare copies they are nicely packaged and were a very reasonable price when i bought them.
you can find Everything they have released here at their bandcamp page as well as some free live sets too, as i said they are all free or you can pay something if you choose to there are various links with each digital release to where you can get the vinyl versions....
The 10 track collection of their Split/Blister The Maw releases is Free/Pay what you want to download here at Third Rex...
You can go to their facebook page here...
They have a ton of great merch on sale here...
Vinyl copies of their stunning debut are still available here...
And believe me if i still had a record player this would already be in my collection!
Go enrich your mind with some truly astounding sounds!