The global black metal collective, Sojourner, has built a very strong following over the course of three full-length releases, spanning six years. Tours with the likes of Saor have cemented their place within the folk-tinged atmospheric black metal community, while their obsessive attention to production details and focus on captivating melody makes them an easy act to follow than, say, the nail-gauntlets and necro-aesthetic of Archgoat.
Their latest release for Napalm Records, Perennial, which consists of the titular track on the A-side and “Relics of the Natural Realm” (a ‘sequel’ to the band’s very first song, “Heritage of the Natural Realm”) on the B-side, adds a new member to the lineup – Lucia Amelia Emmanueli. This feminine touch is a controversial one: yes, the added dynamic and interplay between her shimmering, crystalline vocals and those of Emilio Crespo’s gruff delivery is a whole new dimension to explore, but it is also a massive shift in the direction of more “mainstream” metal successes on the sympho front, like Nightwish or Epica.
Sure, this is going to garner a whole new fanbase for Sojourner, but it does hold the peril of alienating the darker end of the spectrum somewhat: the production values, gentle melodies, folkish touches and now female vocals all mark a shift from atmospheric ‘black’ metal in the stricter sense towards a hybrid blend of melodeath intricacy, symphonic flourishes and gothic melodrama.
As such, the end result is by no means a bad thing: in fact, you’d have to go a long way to find better produced, arranged and performed extreme metal than Sojourner, but along your journey you probably would get distracted by more convincing examples of melancholic expression, nihilism and blistering venom.
Perennial Track Listing:
2. Relics of the Natural Realm
Run Time: 12:30
Release Date: June 4, 2021
Record Label: Napalm Records
The video’s natural beauty is an apt selection of visuals for the single’s themes of natural atmosphere.