Solarcycles have been working on their music for a while, but I didn’t notice them till they released Raven’s Call earlier this year. The band previously released the EP ‘Ethereal Storms’ in 2017 but now they’re back with a full length album, Lunar, and some video’s to go along with that. We’ve previously mentioned tracks from this upcoming album in our MetalFromNL Tiplijst and on our socials as well, and we’re thrilled that they’ve finally released their album. Let’s see what Lunar has to offer us!
Solarcycles started out in 2015. They play a doomy, melancholic version of (melodic) folk metal. The band has a strong connection to nature, and their music calls for emotional acceptance and unity with the world around us. If you look at their website, their communication online, and their videos, it’s clear that this connection with nature and the mystical, Celtic vibe isn’t just for show. Musically, the band seems to draw inspiration from melodic bands like Before the Dawn, Nightwish, and Celtic music.
A good vocalist can make or break a band. With Solarcycles, while all the musicians are more than capable, Sacha’s vocals are the thing that will carry this band to great heights. I’m also gonna give a special mention for the violin parts by …. The combination of the haunting violin melodies and the unique sound of Sacha’s voice is what makes Solarcycles stand out. All too often, the Dutch accent is prominent in the vocals. With SolarCycles I had to do a double take the first time I heard them to make sure they were actually from the Netherlands. Also, Sacha’s voice reminded me a lot of the Cranberries. They have a very distinct Celtic tone, which even without the rest of the band would take their music into the folk realm.
Lunar is heavy on the emotional side. The combination of the vocals and the choice of chord progressions and tempo really invoke a sense of melancholy, and on some tracks, hope. Since the whole album is about nature and our place in it, that makes sense to me.
The album starts with the track Nature’s Blessing, a track that reminds me of old Nightwish tracks, or maybe Evanescence. The violin melody and the vocals alternate nicely and the whole is supported by guitars that aren’t too in your face and a nice orchestration. The instrumental break halfway through the song is a nice change of pace.
From Nature’s Blessing, we dive into Raven’s Call, a track that has been previously released. Even after hearing the rest of the album, this track might still be my favorite by this band. The whole track has that Scandinavian sound that made me wonder where this band was from in the first place. It has that gloomy melancholy vibe that is more common in the north, and I’m curious to see how this album will be received in those regions. The part that really makes this track for me though, is the chorus. The unique qualities of Sacha’s voice and vocal melodies are really prominent in this track. If you only listen to one track from this album; pick Ravens Call.
Ode to the Forest starts off on a quieter note, with nature sounds in the background and a mellow, 3/4th beat. This is the first track where we hear some grunts from I presume one of the guitarists as well. Again in this track an instrumental break to showcase the rest of the band.
Immeasurable Fog was already previously released as well, and it’s again a slower, more moody/gloomy track. I didn’t quite like it when it was first released, and it’s still not my favorite. I think my problem with the track is that it’s a bit too monotone. Also, I’m just not a big fan of ballads, which this track clearly is even though it has a guitar solo at the end.
Luckily for me, with Moonlit Fields Solarcycles picks up the pace again. The piano on the track reminds me of Nightwish again, however, the main riff is clearly folk-metal inspired.
After Moonlit Fields, however, the rest of the album became a bit blurry to me. It might be because the tracks all start to sound a bit the same at some point. Rivers of Light feels more hopeful and less gloomy than some of the other tracks. This track also features the grunts again. On a positive note, Moonblind starts off on piano and sounds like the intro could be from Ludovico Einaudi. This might very well be my second favorite track. Especially when the track kicks into gear after the first verse.
Wrath of the Sea is the heaviest track on the album, also because the guitars are more prominent on it. It feels nautical right off the bat with the chord progressions. Bind the Circle starts off in the same way most tracks have. What sets this track apart though is the heavier break in the middle of the track. Grows then Dies is the final track of the album. A final track to showcase the vocals, piano, and of course some guitar solos
Solarcylces truly is a unique sound in the Dutch metal community. It’s also nice to see some (well done) symphonic/melodic folk metal to balance the heavier stuff that gets released nowadays. It brings back memories of the times when Nightwish, Evanescence, Within Temptation and folk bands like Omnia were still reigning. However, to be completely honest, after a few tracks, it doesn’t excite me as much as it did when I first heard Raven’s Call. It might be because the tracks might sound a little too much the same. It might also be because the violin has more interesting melodies than the guitars. However, highlights of the album for me are Raven’s Call, Moonblind, and maybe Moonlit Fields. If you only listen to one track from this album, I’d say listen to Raven’s Call.
- Nature’s Blessing
- Raven’s Call
- Ode to the Forest
- Immeasurable Fog
- Moonlit Fields
- Rivers of Light
- Wrath of the Sea
- Bind the Circle
- Grows then Dies