Before I start this review, I must state that atmospheric black metal is something that is used by a lot of people. Because of this, its potency is less compared to black/thrash or death/doom. This is frustrating as decent atmospheric black metal bands get lost in the dissing array of records and bands. Additionally, atmospheric black metals preoccupation with nature, space, and non traditional heavy metal themes become the new norm. Crown of Asteria does not make itself known because it breaks any conventions on black ambient and atmospheric black metal rather because it invests itself so fully into music that Sol seems to be a reasonable end to a style experiment started over a decade ago.
Fair warning. Sol contains occasional instances of dissonance. In fact, the actual passages of black metal (“Vines in the Marrow,” “Totem: Invocation of the Owl,”) come sparingly, jagged, and in between swatches of drone and natural soundscapes. While there are many instances of folk instrumentation (Bodhran, flute, acoustic guitar, something that maybe a harp) Sol is far from a folk metal record. It maybe the opposite as it favors the individual. Sol is a solitary and personal record which is fantastic when put in the right context and away from civilization. It is a meditative record whose metal aspects could be argued either way and seem to matter less than other records. Regardless of what it is, Crown of Asteria seems to have found something interesting and has pushed it to its logical conclusion.
I feel it bears mentioning that the tag “One Man Metal” does include women as Crown of Asteria is led by Meghan Wood who has served as the project’s sole creator since 2013. It should also be noted that Crown of Asteria’s music has improved tremendously since its early demos and Sol is another interesting step from the fully instrumental release North in 2013. Whatever the project lacks in terms of technical production and execution makes up for in an almost supernatural ear for mood and atmosphere. If one is interesting the direction taken by woodsy atmopheric black metal bands, then Crown of Asteria has found a delightful place deeper in the in the forest — one that almost entirely blots out the light.