40 Watt Sun is the band that was born out of the demise of Warning, whose roots were deeply entrenched in the British doom scene of bands like Sabbath and former tour mates Solstice. 40 Watt Sun, whose name comes from a Marillion song, features two of the same members, Patrick Walker on guitar and vocals and Christian Leitch on drums, joined by Williman Spong on bass. The first album, The Inside Room, was not a complete departure from their former incarnation with a different sound that was still rooted in heavy and distorted riffs, although it certainly took a path away from the traditional sound that blended many other elements. Still, the slight change in tempo and direction added to the strong emotive qualities of the album.
While The Inside Room was a step away from their doom metal roots, Wider than the Sky is a giant leap. Gone are the heavy and distorted riffs, replaced with a sound that is much more akin to the slowcore genre of bands such as Low. The only remaining remnants are Walker’s distinct and emotional vocals. His voice will be what makes this one of the most amazing bands to ever exist for some people, and one of the most over rated bands to others. It is no surprise that 40 Watt Sun’s music can be considered, in a word, dramatic, as Warning took a hiatus for many years so that Walker could focus on his acting career. While melancholy is absolutely an apt description of the core emotion that they evoke, many other feelings—even hope—come up within these introspective tunes.
With their newfound change in style, Walker’s vocals are now allowed more room to breathe. For instance, the guitars on “Another Room” match Walker’s powerful voice, the timbre of the two fading together and emphasizing one another. It has been a long journey for these members, especially the two key souls who were in Warning, this being only their fourth release in almost two decades. It seems as though all of this has culminated in Wider than the Sky, with 40 Watt Sun’s authentic sound finally being fully realized and complete.
“Pictures” is a bit more upbeat, I would almost even consider it an alternative song, and while it’s by far the least depressing track on the album, it also gives the album a nice break from what is overall overwhelming melancholy. Craven Road instantly comes back with an existential melody that feels like the acceptance of sorrow. Its gentle riff is comforting while simultaneously conveying the awareness of every individual’s suffering. This is the kind of album to drown your sorrows in; to say that this is powerful music would be a significant understatement. The emotions are thick on this album, at times even a bit overbearing. It would be hard to listen to this without reviewing your life, reminiscing on regrets, and feeling that sorrowful nostalgia that can at times be quite crippling. Still, the little jams here and there are quite enjoyable, taking you on a journey away from all that troubles you. It is brimming with hope at times—an enjoyable passage that only leads right back to the mournful wailing of Walker and lyrics that are simply stunning in their realism.
Another album in the style of The Inside Room would have been welcomed, of course; with the familiarity of its origins in the doom metal genre and Walker’s very recognizable voice, a new 40 Watt Sun was simply bound to not disappoint. However, the change in sound has made this an even stronger album than expected; I truly think we as listeners are getting more than we could have ever wanted. The tracks are distinct yet flow well together, capped at the end by “Marion,” whose shorter length could easily give this band the radio play they undoubtedly deserve, although we all know this is unlikely to happen. Yet, we should consider ourselves fortunate to be exposed to music that is so vulnerable and powerful, with its emotional roller coaster that is indeed wider than the sky.
02) Beyond You
03) Another Room
05) Craven Road