Denmark’s Sunken Pack Earth-Rattling Post-Black Metal On Breathtaking New LP

Livslede — the latest album from the Danish post-black metal group Sunken — feels majestically devastating.

Sunken has interwoven moments of shimmering and intense musical majesty with emotional desolation. The riffing frequently feels as powerful as towering ocean waves rushing towards a shore, and an undercurrent of psychologically-resonant rhythmic unease runs through the record.

In many of the rhythms, there’s a feeling like falling to the earth amidst some kind of dangerously torrential (metaphorical) thunderstorm. Sunken’s performances feel wavering, as if following along with the peaks of internal turmoil, and at the same time, the peaks of heaviness feel so very formidable that the upheaved emotional implications of the devastation shine through quite clearly. The music’s physical intensity feels so powerful that the intensity itself carries an emotional impact. The breadth of the mournfully triumphant sound feels like it provides a wide look at devastation, as if surveying the wreckage of some kind of devastating tidal wave or looking out at an incoming threat while trapped at sea.

The line between majesty and devastation can feel tricky, and Sunken quite powerfully manifest the experience of that place of uncertainty.

“Ensomhed” (which is the album’s first “full-length” track) opens with blistering drum rhythms and menacingly soaring bursts of searing riffs — and then, the track enters more dirge-like territory, with comparatively slower rhythms that carry over the atmosphere of heaviness but drive in each hit with a scorching and persistent sternness. It’s like standing in the shadow of destruction — there’s a chance to view a wide breadth, but as reflected in the sound’s churning currents of ominous unease, there’s not really a chance to escape the impact.

Livslede feels emotionally crushing. The closing segment of “Ensomhed” establishes this feeling big time — it’s one of those musical moments where you might sit back and exclaim “god damn.” Among many standout moments, “Foragt” eventually gets into contemplative (yet still heavy) riffs and the album’s closing track, “Dødslængsel,” glides through epic and heavy rhythms.

Sunken veers quite smoothly from sonic territory focused on more big, booming riffs into an experience that hinges more closely on suffocating and mournful dirge-like music, in the vein of some of the most familiar “post-black metal,” with its extended, somber rhythms. The net result of Sunken’s introduction of especially pulverizing heaviness into this familiar post-black metal framework is that Livslede gets even more deeply uneasy than one might expect, like a sudden inward journey into haunted mental corners.

5/5 Stars

Listen to Livslede by Sunken below! The album is available via Vendetta Records.