Album Review: Victory Over the Sun – “Nowherer” 8.7/10 (Experimental Death)

Written by Carcassbomb

Victory Over The SunNowherer
Avant Black Metal/Microtonal Death Metal from Oregon, USA
Released April 23rd, 2021
8.7/10

This is something else. Victory Over the Sun is a solo project of a music genius named Vivian and she accomplishes a lot with this release. I won’t be able to do it justice, due to this person having an understanding of guitar and songwriting that I just do not possess, there are dimensions I can’t see here. I’ve been playing for 15 years and still suck so bad. From the bandcamp page: “written entirely in the 17 equal divisions of the octave (17EDO) tuning system, on guitars I refretted myself”. Ok, I don’t know what that does, but this album sounds so epic.

I’m no stranger to dissonance but this has to be the most appealing dissonance I remember hearing. Most of the time I’m hearing it in atmospheric black metal and metallic hardcore, where it’s used with the intent to cause a level of discomfort or add a layer of grit to the sound, which is present here but there’s more on offer also. Victory Over The Sun manages to use dissonance in a way that is addictive, it has an odd effect on me like a vicious lulling at points. I think this is where some of the unique music-making elements of this album come into play to create a sound unique to this project. The dissonance actually has momentum and progressions to it, it’s not an extra layer – it’s at the core of the music without, which remains entertaining as opposed to drone-like.

The format of the release appeals to me as well, I’ve been really getting into albums with only a handful of tracks but of greatly varying lengths, here we have four tracks at seven, two, eight and then TWENTY minutes. I guess I’ve been attracted to this setup since Blood Incantation in 2019 with Hidden History Of The Human Race. The twenty-minute track on this one, “Oscines” is a journey and half that was absolutely gripping. The crawling basslines at some parts just had me shaking my head, it’s too good. The vocals, blackened as hell, vary between what feels like fury and pain. My only real criticism is that I don’t feel the drums are utilized as much as the guitar and bass are, they are more of a vessel to carry riffs and are drowned out by the guitar mix a lot of the time.

Album art by Helvetica Blanc

This is apparently microtonal metal, and I had to look that up because I don’t know music theory. As with any time I try to look up music theory, my ADHD does everything it can to pull me out of there, I read it and I still don’t understand what it is. I know that at the very least, it is an unconventional approach to music requiring a lot of know-how or rigging. I will be delving into other microtonal music projects in the future after hearing this, it’s clearly something I enjoy whatever it is. I don’t have to understand the specifics behind the process to understand how this music makes me feel and just how creative every aspect of it is from the art, the track titles, the sound and in the lyrics. There’s a level of dedication here that is clear and after listening to new music every day for years now, I always appreciate the albums that strike me like a bolt of lightning out of nowhere.

Additional flourishes aren’t simply added into the music, every little detail is in some way warped and directed, customized. A standout example is the distorted chirping birds on the final tracks which create a surreal atmosphere. In this way, I can hear similarities between Victory Over The Sun and Liturgy, although I personally prefer the pacing and aggro of Nowherer to Origin of the Alimonies. I could imagine many metal fans having a similar difficulty entering this album as well, but I assure you it will grow on you immensely once you get through the first track and begin to get a feel of the overall picture. Such is the nature of outsider art.

Shoutout to Aki McCullough who mastered this one, we’ve been mutuals on Twitter for some time and I’ve consistently seen her put out good audio engineering work through Nu House Studios, and is a talented musician in her own right with various brilliant projects like A Constant Knowledge Of Death and Dreamwell.

The last couple of minutes with the higher kinda gothy melody is so good, it feels like a resolution of kinds after the grittiness thus far. It’s a satisfying endnote.

8.7/10

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