It was the gorgeous video for the incredible song “Low End”that whisked Soror Dolorosa to the top of my “must have” list. The video(below), follows a group of wandering gypsy-like figures, led by a mystic, as they journey to the “North” to escape an invisible murdering force that has been claiming members of their tribe. The video, the plot of which took me a watch or three to fully grasp, convincingly creates an aura of mystique and despair that I have not seen in a video in memory. The strange and dreary story is set to perhaps the best song I have heard this year, a perfect example of bleak and haunting Cold Wave (a darker take on New Wave) that is replete with beautiful,pained vocals, sparse, shimmering guitars, and driving bass and drums that are all the more powerful for their simplicity. The video is a must see, and after hearing it for the first time, I could not wait to get my hands on the band’s first full length, Blind Scenes, released this past February.
What I found was not quite what I expected having first heard “Low End,” but I was not disappointed. Blind Scenes is more of a Cold Wave/Goth Rock album than the sparse, contemplative album I was expecting; it is an album that calls to mind Sisters of Mercy and The Cure more than some of the early Floater vibes that “Low End” gives off. The band themselves describe their music as “blue sound,” reflecting the nostalgia and melancholy that permeates their songs, and it is a fair description. Blind Scenes is at times brooding, at times cold, and at times more straight forward gloomy Goth Rock—pretty blue stuff.
The band’s background makes Soror Dolorosa (“Sister Pain” as the band translates it, though I think perhaps “Sorrowful Sister” might be better) even more interesting and further boosts their already elevated cool factor. All members of the band, which formed in Toulouse in 2001, are veterans of theFrench black metal scene. The original lineup, which has been shuffled over the years but still maintains its black metal roots, featured three members of Funeraell and one from Celestiaand Peste Noir. Musically, the New Wave based style of Soror Dolorosa may seem like a big departure from ripping three chord black metal and blast beats, but the message is the same: a bleak and mournful survey of existence.
Fans of New Wave, Goth Rock, and dark music in general will appreciate Blind Scenes, a well paced album that is anchored by the incredible “Low End”. It is refreshing to see members of the black metal scene branching out in this unexpected and ambitious direction, and it is even more satisfying that they have done so so well. This album will be in my rotation for quite some time.