Sol Veritus Lux - Review
This band is easily recognized as one of the premier bands of neo-folk music over the last two decades. This release is presented as a re-issue of the 1990 release which contains their first two albums in a compilation of no less than 22 stunning tracks. The disc is presented in a beautiful digipack with lyrics and an informative background of this disc and the career of Tony Wakeford, Ian Read and Karl Blake. This stands a monument and a tribute to this legendary dark folk band.
The album starts off with the excellent piece "Angels Fall". This first version includes acoustic guitar, some powerful accented percussion and electronics to punctuate the somber vocals, creating a nice piece that crosses genres while maintaining that great folk sound. This gives way to the classic piece "Raven Chorus". After an excellent celtic rhyme this builds up to a moving piece with a great dance-friendly rhythm sporting some subtle gothic elements. With these elements this piece has quickly become a favorite of mine. Other pieces from the first album Against the Modern World with this traditional old-world feeling is an "Untitled" piece which sounds like something you might hear in a pagan cursing ritual or something along those lines.
The political and social views that the album title is indicative of comes out in many of the remaining tracks of this first released work. "Against the Modern World" is probably the most socially oriented piece with obvious folk elements of acoustic guitar and the added bonus of some angelic backing vocals. "Long Live Death" is the perfect example of what a neo-folk piece really is that anyone could use to explain what this genre is actually made of from lyrics, range of instruments and even the inclusion of some basic moving beats. "A Ship Is Burning" comes out as a little more upbeat and with a brighter mood with female backing vocals and is similar to "Summer Ends", which is another excellent solid neo-folk track with a mix of acoustic guitar, electronics and a slow-paced somber industrial beat. This leaves us with "Wolf-Age, Axe Age" with music and percussion that is awesome, providing a dark and moody backdrop for the chanting doom-filled lyrics.
At this point we're brought to the tracks of The Jaws of the Serpent which take on a slightly different style, leaving the melodic nature behind and becomes somewhat darker and more minimalistic which in some cases is nice while in others it seems to lose a lot of the feeling that was so great in the first part of the album. The nice thing is that we're presented with alternate version of "Angels Fall" and "Raven Chorus".&nsp; "Angels Fall" starts the second part of the album with this slightly different style permeating the pieces with an added strong, distorted bass anchoring many of the tracks. The other version of "Raven Chorus" starts off with the same accapella introduction but adding a moving beat earlier, almost like you would hear in a remix aimed at the dance floor. With a slight variation on instruments, this piece retains it's original integrity and is still a favorite piece.
"Rise and Fall" seems to be a continuation of "Angels Fall" as it sounds almost identical, but I think this is more due to the overall style of this second part which does tend to make many pieces sound so similar. Several more political and social themes come out in "The World It Turns", "Media" and "Somewhere in Europe". However, some great folk tracks are included with the peak being reached possible with "Twa Corbies" which has interesting lyrical content to mix well with the great music. Another real favorite is "Abattoirs of Love" with a forlorn folk touch.
Great "bonus" material includes "The Joy of the World" which is an excellent 7-minute instrumental piece with a great percussion line and a nice overall composition of a combination of instruments. After this we have three unlisted "bonus" in the form of "Angels Fall", "Against the Modern World" and "Summer Ends" all taking more of an acoustic approach and different vocals. All of this makes for a must-have album that any neofolk music lover will definitely want to pick up, so be sure to check it out.
European Label: Tursa Records
N. American Label: Strange Fortune