The band’s name, Sans Soleil, translates to Sunless, and they worked with a guy who produced Earthless on this EP, but their music actually sounds more like Earth. And no, not just because some of these songs are viola-driven, although that certainly helps.
It’s the stringed instrument that rises right away on opening track “A Holy Land,” a nine-and-a-half-minute helping of heavy post-sludge that’ll whet yer appetite. I’ll just say that the viola works well amongst some seriously heavy riffage, and even the latest Earth album, which was somewhat of a return to heaviness, didn’t crush this hard.
“An Umbral Plain” starts off slightly slower, but its not long before the strings soar atop more pounding, plodding accompaniment—though this one has a nice change of pace just past the halfway point. “Across Brillant Sands” has an even more mello vibe, as the viola really shines on its stirring intro. This one also sounds the most like more recent Earth, which obviously isn’t a bad thing.
The EP ends with 11-minute epic “Beneath a Godless Sky,” which is slower than its predecessors, initially offering up an Earthy vibe before getting progressively heavier, albeit without deviating from its original path. Hey, if I’m gonna dock a band with a violist marks for originality, it’s only because this style has been done before.