Detroit-based project Mission to the Sun is Christopher Samuels (Ritual Howls) and vocalist Kirill Slavin. For those familiar with Ritual Howls‚Äô catalog, there are brooding melodies and electronic forays akin to that band, but listeners will not mistake this for a Ritual Howls release. Cleansed by Fire‚Äôs modus operandi is founded on minimal ambient electronics that serve as the foundational context for Slavin‚Äôs bleak lyrics and haunting vocals.
When it works, it does so to significant effect, particularly on "Damaged."¬†Vocals set back in the mix provide a robust and brooding balance between Samuels‚Äô sad synthesizer melody and gloomy lyrics, crying,¬†"I tried to reach the sky, but I burnt out." Instrumental¬†"Mission to the Sun"¬†is a standout track that brokers a hypnotic industrial rhythm splashed with fuzz and interspersed with ghostly and staccato vocals.
Some songs come off as more challenging in that they start slow and straightforward, sounding as if they are building towards a grand finale that never arrives. ("Take Me Back,"¬†"Three Crossings") That said, concert rock this is not - far from it - intending instead to invoke a contemplative if darker mood. Consider¬†"The Unbroken Sea,"¬†founded on a straightforward underlying synth melody; from here, carefully listen as it becomes embellished with soft static, wind effects, and the occasional ghost chorus. The lyrics match the mood, with Slavin matter-of-factly imploring the listener to¬†"Take all my possessions / Release me from confession / Drain me of ability / In the deepest water / Just waiting for the slaughter."¬†None of Mission to the Sun‚Äôs melodies are as direct as those of Ritual Howls, but patience will reward with darker gems of a different sort.
Samples can be found here.