Review in Aural Pressure
Elend's fifth album (not counting "Weeping Nights" which wasn't much more than an alternate version of "Les Ténèbres du Dehors") and second part of their new 5 albums circle, is now for the first time fully orchestrated, accompanied by a ensemble of more than 50 classically trained musicians and singers, is their most ambitious effort and possibly the best to date.
With their preceding album ("Winds Devouring Men"), Elend had made a few changes on their formula. Added are some industrial experimentations and starting using only clean vocals (in a similar fashion as Dead Can Dance), now their compositions are again closer to what they had done before but with a much greater maturity and the acoustic instruments now give a whole new dimension to the music; yet here and there you can still hear traces of the industrial noises that were on "Winds Devouring Men".
Starting off slowly, with female choirs, some noise and distortion, you might expect a similar pace as its predecessor. It only takes 4:30 minutes for the second track ('Ardour') to show you what "Sunwar" is about: fast paced strings and epic soundscapes. Then starts the title song. One could call it 'brutal neo-classical' music with a even faster pace and heavy percussion. From there on until closer to the end you will have no rest and you will be glad for it, tracks 7 and 9 ('Songs of Ashes' and 'Poliorketika') being the exceptions in thé middle of the album where things slow down a bit. But here slow trully doesn't mean bad.
The only possible reproach I could come up with was that at parts I missed some of the old style screamed vocals for a greater dose of profanation. If you are (such as myself) an old Elend fan, "Sunwar the Dead" is a must have; and if you're not but enjoy real sombre music (not your cheap gothic metal) it's about time you review your concepts and give it a try.