REVIEW - Shuulak - Rubedo (EP)
When it comes to symphonic / power metal bands there is no doubt that our European cousins steal a march on us Brits - think Nightwish (Finland), Blind Guardian (Germany), Rhapsody Of Fire (Italy) and Sonata Arctica (again Finalnd). To these names, you can add Dutch band Shuulak, whose 'Rubedo' EP was released at the end of last year and is the concluding part to their tetralogy that also includes EPs 'Nigredo' (2017), 'Albedo' (2018) and 'Citrinitas' (2019) and concerns itself with an alchemist's path to enlightenment. While I'm not 'au fait' enough to comment on the concept, musically the 17 minutes of 'Rubedo' make up a fine EP, with its alternate passages of strident, fierce metal and slower, reflective, often very beautiful, quieter interludes. Opening two tracks, 'Ancient Sins' and 'Scourge Of Aeons' ride in on powerful guitars and Bastien Baron's distinctive vocals but also find time to change tempos, introduce strings and choral undertows and gives the music at times a mysterious and otherworldy feel. The guitars throughout are excellent - melodic with very often a twin harmony sound reminiscent of Maiden and Priest and the tracks themselves are tight and well-structured. The EP finishes with 'The Azoth II' which is a lovely track consisting of breathy female vocals and understated strings and which brings this intriguing and enjoyable release to an ethereal close.
'Rubedo' is available on Bandcamp and all the major digital streaming sites.
Shuulak are :- Bastien Baron - Vocals Eve Laetitia - Lead Guitars Ricardo Kroon - Rhythm Guitar Puck Wildschut - Bass Angelo Tower - Drums