The Eternal Traveller review by Ian Morrissey for Doom-metal.com
SVC revisits some of his spacier past projects with Gruulvoqh, and puts a masterful new dynamic twist on their Drone/Funeral origins.
Gruulvoqh is one of the many Stijn van Cauter projects that are out there, albeit one of the more recent ones. In general, I tend to assume that such a brazen quantity of projects would naturally lead to a reduction in quality but that’s simply not happened to date. As I’ve said in other reviews, Stijn van Cauter always manages to create music that is on my wavelength, and 'The Eternal Traveller' is not an exception.
If I had to select one element that Stijn van Cauter is never far away from, it’d be space. A number of his projects have either been about space/space travel/aliens, or have simply had atmospheres that evoke such visions. Gruulvoqh is not an exception there, albeit more in concept than atmosphere.
The riffs on 'The Eternal Traveller' are more akin to those found in Drone/Doom, although the album itself is far more up-tempo and engaging than the average Drone/Doom release. Indeed, I would said that Gruulvoqh play a type of Funeral Doom, although it’s only tortured vocals away from being loosely classified as Black Metal. As always, Stijn van Cauter follows his own path musically, transcending musical borders at will. It may make jobs like mine a bit of a nightmare when trying to explain what it is that he does, but at least it’s a pleasant listen along the way!
What you’ll find in this plodding music are finely woven female harmonies, comparable to those by Julianna Barwick. Such soaring sounds fused with the relative melancholy of the Drone/Doom riffs and vibrant keyboards makes this release one hell of a capturing composition. Rather than conjuring a specifically space-themed image, this music leaves me with visions of an individual exploring earth. That in itself isn’t so far away from the concept of space travel though, so it’s easy to see why Gruulvoqh’s music and concept dovetail so well.
Like a lot of Stijn van Cauter’s solo releases, the style doesn’t deviate too much. Ergo, I would say that if you listen to a 5 minute sample and don’t like it, you’re not going to like the album. I can’t imagine that many would be overly against music of this nature though, given how atmospheric, captivating, and beautiful it is. Still, in typical fashion, I’m sure any that don’t like it will make themselves known!
I’ve lost count of how many times Stijn van Cauter has composed atmospheres that really speak to me, and the music of Gruulvoqh is, yet again, not an exception. I genuinely don’t know how he does it. A number of his projects (especially Dreams Of Dying Stars and Until Death Overtakes Me) are my own personal soundtrack to my younger years; that’s the music that accompanies me on a lot of strolls down memory lane. In my opinion, it requires great skill to make something that does that to you, which is why I regard Stijn van Cauter so highly.
But I digress. The album itself comes in a tidy digipack with some lovely imagery and full prints of the lyrics on the composition. I can’t honestly think of any weaknesses with the release because everything about it suits me. 'The Eternal Traveller' is an incredibly powerful release, irrespective of which inference you have upon having listened to it. As per usual, Stijn van Cauter takes the listener on a journey, and I can’t recommend such experiences enough.