Vera : Sojourner is really an international collective. Their origin (2015) is New Zealand embodied by composer Mike Lamb (guitars, keyboards), but now he lives in Scotland with his English wife Chloe Bray (female vocals, tin whistle, piano, guitar). Singer Emilio Crespo hails from Spain, the new drummer Riccardo Floridia is Italian (he also plays in Atlas Pain) and bassist Mike Wilson is the second New Zealander. One of them appears to be living in Sweden. Are you still following? In 2016 the band released the well-received debut album ‘Empires Of Ash’ and after covering a Summoning track for a tribute album, now the time has come to put their sophomore album ‘The Shadowed Road’ in our CD player.
Sojourner uses influences from all kinds of subgenres and they manage to make a tasteful signature brew out of it. The folk inspired atmospheric metal has obvious influences of doom and black metal, but this will also appeal to fans of the doom/gothic from the nineties. Indeed, there are Summoning influences – especially in the symphonic harshness of ‘Our Bones Among The Ruins’ – but Sojourner is really good in blending their own sound with all ingredients. Piano intermezzos and soaring synthesizers often occur, as well as graceful, emotive guitar leads. Those are really marvelous and played with loads of feeling. From the opening track ‘Winter’s Slumber’ on, we are comfortably awaken out of our winter sleep. The male vocals are often creepy blackened and raw, intermittent with lower ranged death grunt parts. Now and then we can hear the dreamy voice of Chloe Bray, but it is a bit mixed in the back most of the time. Anders Jacobsson of Draconian wrote the lyrics for the song ‘Titan’, influences of Draconian are also heard in the music of Sojourner.
The tin whistle playing of Chloe is an important element in the songs, accentuating the folkloristic element, but keyboards and piano have an important function as well. The long compositions are often regaled with calm, atmospheric passages, followed by impressive outbursts with harsh vocals. The voice of Chloe sounds a bit thin – surely in ‘Where Lost Hope Lies’ – but that’s the only criticism I have on this ultimately beautiful and genuine record, with the long title track as enchanting finale. It starts sensitive, but gets more powerful with strong guitar skills and heavier parts. The band left no stone unturned, since ‘The Shadowed Road’ was mixed by Øystein G. Brun from Borknagar and mastered by Dan Swanö with a top notch sound as result. The artwork from the Romanian illustrator Bast reminds us a bit of the beautiful landscapes of Winterfylleth, but also a bit of Summoning. If you have a soft spot for very melodious doom/death metal with a pinch of black and folk, then this happens to be a must have!