Bloodway - _Sunstone Voyager and the Clandestine Horizon_
(I, Voidhanger, 2014)
by: Chaim Drishner (9 out of 10)
Romanian triplet Bloodway have recorded a meaningful album probably very few know of, or have listened to. The band have opened a portal into a different dimension of heavy metal, a blessed escape from both the 'Cascadian' sound that has been spreading like wildfire, and the mindless and ultra fast, atmosphere-killing rhythms, that if not handled carefully and accurately, can backfire, leading to a disastrous cacophony all too easily.

Bloodway's first studio recording, a mini album containing five tracks of an average length among which is a short introductory, pushes black metal towards a whole different direction, charging it with a unique interpretation. Bloodway envision black metal as an admixture of old and new, tried-and-true methods treading new paths, traditional ways of making sound taken onto the fast lane toward the bizarre and the futuristic, and while at it throwing into the mix some progressive rock and spicing it all up with some jazz-oriented maneuvers and a grain of post-rock / art rock psychedelia, adding a notch of melodrama.

Bloodway's _Sunstone Voyager and the Clandestine Horizon_ owns a strange, hollow, reverberating sound that isn't particularly associated with black metal's distinctive aesthetic. In fact, a major part of these short yet magical 26 minutes shows hardly any relation to metal; it's all very dirty, basic, bass-laden, vintage-sounding, ancient and laid-back rock 'n' roll, featuring a hysterical screamer (among other methods of throat treatments) as well as intriguing, unorthodox arrangements that render the music ceremonial and esoteric.

The guitar sound, as well as the progressive rock / jazzy liquid, semi-improvisational riffs have got a very strong _The Agent That Shaped the Desert_-era Virus vibe, but Bloodway's music is darker and contains some exquisite ritualistic sections absent from Virus's compositions.

You could regard Bloodway's metallic dark / spacey / desert rock as avant-garde, but only if you perceive avant-garde as a reshaping of an already existing style and giving it a whole new set of rules and aesthetics that paradoxically do not distance the core elements from their origins. In other words, this is avant-garde of the kind that plays heavy and at times noisy rock/metal and still manages to distance itself from the norm, as opposed to bands who remove essentials or add entirely alien elements to their music, making the result sound at times only a derivative of the metal or rock foundations that should have been there in the first place.

Both the texts and artwork are essentially enigmatic; the lyrics roam from what appears to be a stream-of-consciousness writing, to some philosophical, existential message about life being a journey into as many experiences as a human can endure during a lifetime and the insignificance of being within the context of the Universe; or, if to paraphrase what was expressed by the band: we are a drop of water in an ocean of stars.

If you listen to the album from a distance, you may think this is, indeed, black metal of sorts. But the more intimate you become with the music, the more you realize this advanced work of art has nothing to do with black metal, or metal at all, for that matter. You'll find nothing in it that is characteristic to the style. Every dogma of metal crumbles down in the face of this wonderful stargazing lunacy. The only thing that binds _Sunstone Voyager and the Clandestine Horizon_ with the sickest sound of black metal, is probably the sentiments it conjures: the same inherent depravity factor that runs its course from beginning to end, the same vileness and the very same foul stench of existence that oozes, bucket-full, from this album's every breath and from the dark shadow it casts, tainting everything it touches with futility; from its quirky drama, its lunatic vocals and its elusive, fickle abilities of total and complete mind-fucking.

_Sunstone Voyager and the Clandestine Horizon_ is a mind-altering, psycho-active drug. Despite its general strange sound it truly is a captivating and catchy an endeavor that will devour your senses and leave you wanting more. Be cautious of how, when and where you use it, and beware of the consequences.


(article published 16/10/2014)

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