I’ve long been proud of the fact that I’ve witnessed the rise of a good number of bands in my time doing these reviews. Some of them were pretty quick, others still in progress like what I’m witnessing with Howling Giant and Lord Buffalo. But on rare occasions, it’s truly meteoric. A little over a year ago, I witnessed the ascension of two particularly phenomenal bands from the underground: 1914 and Sojourner. If you know me, you know both these acts. 1914’s “The Blind Leading the Blind” was my second favorite album that came out and served as their Napalm Records debut the following year; a very well-deserved reward for monstrous quality. And then there’s Sojourner. Quite literally, if I had to choose a handful of bands that deserve to be known across the globe, Sojourner should absolutely make that list and they finally got their chance.
It almost brings a fucking tear to my eye. I remember getting the email about their very first song, “Heritage of the Natural Realm”, and being blown away by the song to only be left wondering what a full-length would sound like from them. Without even a second song released, they signed with Avantgarde Music who’s a true need-to-know label for the metal underground in every right. Two full-lengths followed after that with a wide following and massive success to boot that was far more than warranted with their blend of atmospheric black and folk metal that we had seen before, but Sojourner’s performance was truly one in tens of thousands. I constantly found myself lost in their releases, and it wasn’t long after 1914’s allegiance to Napalm Records that I was stunned, overjoyed, and bewildered beyond measure. I could’ve practically jumped in excitement over that! I had no idea what exactly “Premonitions” had in store, and it’s now that the entire globe knows how one of a kind and beyond belief Sojourner is in every measure.
I truly do sit here and do my best to remain impartial to a new release as to not let my love of a band cloud my sight of something bad that I could potentially skip right over. It was a real task to do so when I laid in bed to fully throw myself into “Premonitions”, and after the near-hour long album finished, I was ecstatic to play it over again and really fucking enjoy it! I say it way too much but there is no way that I can stress this enough here: everything that Sojourner has done here is no less than absolute perfection on a scale that is truly mind-boggling. I haven’t been this amazed by an album of this kind since Downfall of Nur’s landmark “Umbras de Barbagia”. Sure, we’ve gotten other truly awesome albums of this vein from Wilderun, Saor, and Sojourner two other times, I’ve no doubt in my heart whatsoever that “Premonitions” takes the fucking cake by far.
Drawing together all their experience and giving us the best-case scenario of every single element here that covers both the black and folk metal worlds in perfect harmony while still making it their own, Sojourner truly has a field day with this release. This is by far their crowning achievement as “Premonitions” brings everything together so amazingly well that it leaves one wondering just how all these different elements that contrast each other as much as they do but all complement each other on such a scale that is no less than staggering. Taking the equally beautiful and immaculate vocals of both kinds, instruments that can easily be scathing and mesmerizing but always masterful, and capturing a unique spirit that only a handful of other acts have ever and will ever accomplish to this scale, Sojourner has succeeded on an astronomical level. Every possible facet that could’ve been achieved here was done so without hesitation or fault. If Sojourner were to tragically fold in the towel right now, there is no better spot that they could’ve left off on. In every sense, this is a magnum opus like extremely few others.
Without question, this was one of my most anticipated albums of the year and it’s already at the top. Sojourner has more than surpassed all of my expectations and if you were to tell me that they’re going to improve by the next album even more than you can have the password to my bank account so you can throw all of my money at them. “Premonitions” is everything this style has deserved for years now, and it’s only fitting that one of its most premier acts can deliver it in such grand fashion.
PURCHASE “Premonitions” via multiple sources here.
LISTEN to Sojourner on Bandcamp here.
LIKE Sojourner on Facebook here.