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Somnent : Sojourn

Somnent's first full-length very much delivers on the promise of their earlier EP.

You might remember solo project Somnent from their solid debut EP 'Eventide', originally released back in 2015. Atypical for a Stateside band, their classic-Eurocentric-school melodic Death/Doom clearly found more favour this side of the pond, and our friend Vitaliy at GS Productions picked it up for a 2016 CD release. Well, it wasn't spectacularly ground-breaking, but it was a nicely put together piece of work and one which could sit equally well alongside your Peaceville or Solitude collections. And, having kept in touch with band founder Giovanni A. Vigliotti in the meantime, I knew he was working hard on this follow-up full-length, with the intention of pushing it to the next level.

Having struggled first time around to get the EP promoted and on a label, 'Sojourn', fortunately, was a more straightforward deal, and GSP put it out straightaway as a tidy 6-panel digi. The simple but elegant cover art gives it a stylishly understated feel, and all the lyrics and relevant information are included inside. Notably, it really is a one-man project - barring a guest female vocal appearance, everything else, from composition to studio, is handled by Vigliotti.

I had some expectation it was going to expand on the influences and elements laid out in 'Eventide', and I wasn't disappointed at all. Slightly surprised at the sheer level of evolution, if anything, as the title track opener drifted in with a gentle melody and spoken-word section, introduced a more prominent use of keyboards, and built up through clean male and female vocal parts as it headed towards the aggressive punch of 'Deceit'. Taken together, those two tracks probably sum up most of what Somnent have done with 'Sojourn', and where it's improved over 'Eventide'.

First and foremost - though this isn't a new feature - is the quality of compositions, which have the knack for capturing really catchy, atmospheric melodies for both guitar and keyboard, and turning them into fully-featured songs. The guitars sweep from chugging Metal rifferama ('A Bitter Ending'), through Death/Doom heaviness ('The Furtive Longing'), to laid back classic Rock solos ('Sojourn Part II'), while the accompanying keys range from swelling Hammond-esque organ to orchestral string and wind voices. Despite the variety, however, things never sound too busy or cluttered, and both the tracks individually and the album as a whole hang together as an absorbing and enjoyable journey, that drips with a lush, all-pervading melancholy.

The other strong element in the equation is the vocals: cleans don't feature too often, but when they do, they're appropriate and pleasingly tuneful, while the growls have a deep, powerful tone that delivers with conviction. As a solo project, the drums are - almost inevitably - programmed, though not too obtrusively so: a little repetitive, but they pack an acceptable heft and timbre in most places. Production-wise things have improved, with a better feel, clarity and separation, though it's at its best on the gentler and slower tracks, and still sounds a little cramped at times when things get a bit heavier, with some of the tracks - like 'The Furtive Longing' - coming across slightly murky and muffled compared to the sharper-sounding ones either side of it. I wouldn't call it a major issue or detraction, by any means, it's subtle enough that it could even be an intentional device to introduce some old-school contrast to the individual sound of the tracks.

OK, there's a lot in there which could be describing almost any somewhat-eclectic melodic Gothic/Death/Doom band since, well, My Dying Bride, or Morgion for a US example. And there are parts which sound a little like both, plus some Shape Of Despair moments, even shades of Deep Purple (sic), and many other names you could throw into the mix. Which I both don't mind, and don't really care about - the truth is there's very little that's ever genuinely "new" in music, or can't be traced back and compared to something else somewhere along the line. What really matters is that quality will out, and this is a bona fide quality release which amalgamates all of those into something individual and personal. When the CD first arrived, it was a pleasant and unexpected surprise to see my name in the short list of "Special thanks..."; having listened to it, I can also add that I'm proud to have been mentioned in connection with an album that has both talent and heart behind it. Add in a real drummer to flesh out the percussion, and it would rightfully be a modern classic of the genre; as it is, it only falls a hair's-breadth short of that gold standard, and not for want of the effort and skill that's gone into creating it.

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Reviewer's rating: 8.5/10


Tracklist :
1. Sojourn
2. Deceit
3. The Furtive Longing
4. Unveiled
5. Sojourn Part II
6. A Bitter Ending
7. Closure

Duration : Approx. 48 minutes

Visit the Somnent bandpage.

Reviewed on 2018-02-25 by Mike Liassides
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