Sedna - _Sedna_
(Drown Within Records, 2014)
by: Chaim Drishner (7.5 out of 10)
Italian Drown Within Records is among the best discoveries made this year. Out of total anonymity it has sprung into existence and into our consciousness, making itself known as one of the strongest rising forces in the metal underground. Established only a year ago, it has already managed to release at least three albums: Emrevoid's excellent _Riverso_, Sedna's impressive self-titled, Under the Ocean's _Dark Waters_ and Dementia Senex's EP _Heartworm_, which was a collaboration with a couple of other labels. Not bad for a label that's hardly a year old. Drown Within thus far has been focusing on releasing albums by indigenous bands, and that's a bonus as far as lovers of Italian metal, like this reviewer, are concerned.

Many a metal band are seemingly obsessed with mythologies and cultural exotica. Sedna is named after a mythological goddess of the sea in Inuit mythology. Inuit are the original inhabitants of parts of Northern America (Canada, United States) and parts of Greenland, referred to, by the majority, as Eskimo people. This group of people, their cultural legacy and everyday practice, as well as the geographical regions where they have resided for centuries, couldn't be more removed from the sun-drenched, Mediterranean region these Italians hail from -- and still, these musicians find it a fascinating subject upon which they have based both their moniker and lyrical themes.

Sedna's music is first and foremost brooding, with a strong Neurosis vibe clinging to it in the atmospheric sections. The album can be a challenge for those who have no patience or a short attention span, because not only does the beauty of the album dawn upon the listener after at least three or four rounds of careful listening on a good stereo system, but also due to the fact the album's 54 minutes are distributed between three very long tracks (13 minutes being the shortest, 20 minutes the longest track, a 5 minute instrumental not included). These tracks, highly varied and having multiple aesthetics and velocities within each of them, don't conclude in a heartbeat; they beckon you to sit through each of them and listen carefully from beginning to end, and draw your conclusions only after you have done so.

So, those who are in no way fond of the post-modern sound and various musical hybrids within heavy music, and prefer their metal as pure breed as possible -- stay clear from Sedna's self-titled. However, if you are not limiting yourself, you'll find more than a fair share of dazzling compositions in this album. Sedna mix old and new, post-metal and old-school, sludge and black metal into this strong first release that has a lot to offer to anyone who cares enough to listen. Above, presiding, is the spirit of Neurosis; their soul-shattering, ear-splitting, contemplative psychedelic destruction is all over the place, sometimes hinted at and some times fully exposed, inter-stitched into the very fabric of this megalithic album.

Call it doom-core, call it black-gaze, call it atmospheric hardcore or post-metal, Sedna don't give a rat's ass about labels. You will find scorching atmospheres and melancholic shoegaze parts colliding with blast beats and dark shrills; you'll encounter clean guitars and tribal drumming coupled with death metal growls and slow, monumental pieces of somber solace -- a rollercoaster of sentiments, emotions, soundscapes and influences reveling harmoniously in each of the tracks.

With a thundering and atmospheric attitude akin to the aforementioned mighty Neurosis in their most grand and vitriolic phase, Italian combo Sedna know how to create tidal waves of beautiful heaviness. Once you're hooked onto those rich and epic textures, Sedna seemingly ruin that wonderful ambiance with some misplaced blast beats that obliterate everything, melody included. But that is only the first impression. In the long run, will you come to understand this is the band's modus operandi throughout the album, and part of the album's charm.

Sedna could have been the Italian equivalent to Neurosis, so massive and intriguing is the atmospheric hardcore / post-hardcore / sludge displayed so very convincingly on their debut self-titled album. Instead, the band chooses to cut the atmosphere short by adding occasional barrages of 'wall of sound' governed by drum blasts, reducing the music into virtually white noise. This 'black metal phase' of the band finds it in its weakest position, but thankfully those chaotic sections are rather few and far between. You could have settled for the band's slower epic parts and die a happy man, but in the long run this is, again, part of their charm, as they successfully experiment with almost every style of extreme rock-oriented music and fail not in delivering a colossal recording despite those blasting 'ambiance-killers'.

If I thought this album was definitely not for me when I hit the play button for the first time (so frustrated was I seeing a band who consciously decided to ruin a perfectly constructed atmospheric music I could have really enjoyed), on my fourth venture into the sounds of _Sedna_ I was completely hooked and mesmerized, telling myself this monster of an album is going straight into my music collection's hall of fame.

So, whether you are a Neurosis fan, or of anything post/atmospheric hardcore-related but like your music more aggressive, tribal and heavy (Regarde les Hommes Tomber's self-titled album from the previous year, for instance), _Sedna_ will quench all your desires and leave you bewildered and exhausted for its sheer immensity and raw power, as well as for its multi-faceted approach to music -- an approach that by those talented hands has created a colorful dark sonic beast of epic proportions.


(article published 13/11/2014)

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