Primitive Origins: Night Sun – ‘Mournin’’

Primitive Origins is a column where we’ll look back at proto-metal and early metal that deserves a bit of your battered eardrum’s attention. We’re keeping it loose and easy here: there’s no strict guidelines other than it’s gotta be old, it helps if it’s obscure, and it’s gotta rock out surprisingly hard for its context. Pscyh-ed out proto-metal from the late ’60s? Of course. Early attempts at doom metal from the ’70s? Hell yeah. Underground Soviet metal from the early ’80s? Sure. Bring it on. Bring it all on.

This time around, the subject of this column was suggested to us by a reader (hails, La Chinga), who argued that Night Sun’s 1972 album Mournin’ was worthy of our inspection. So, we tracked it down (well, typed the band name and album name into YouTube’s search engine, making at least three typos, but, goddammit, we found it), and we’re happy to be bringing you our thoughts on this wild, proto-prog-metal gem.

And those thoughts are positive: this German band’s album is off the charts with its energy, as opener “Plastic Shotgun” proves, the vocalist racing to keep up with the frantic prog-hard-rock of the players; love that main riff, one that many prog metal six-stringers of years to come would play variations of. Second cut “Crazy Woman” has another killer, stuttering main riff before one of the album’s focal points comes in: the organ. I’m not the biggest organ guy, but I can appreciate when a longhair is wailing away on one of those things, which is clearly happening here.

“Got a Bone of My Own” pushes eight minutes and gets moody, epic, and haunting before it goes all progged-out with a killer labyrinthine riff (seriously, this album is full of great riffs), brought home by a crashing, pounding drum performance; great interplay between the musicians here on this standout track. “Slush Pan Man” drops one of the album’s heavier riffs, and although it fights with the organ to achieve maximum heaviness, it drops a nice proto-doom touch to the album.

“Living with the Dying”stuns by way of a drum-solo inclusion, which, hey, man: it was the early ’70s; somehow that shit made sense back then. But mainly because everyone was stoned out of their mind; it’s worth it now because when the rest of the band wakes up and launches into what you’ll recognize by this point in the album as a typical Night Sun riff, it’s a pretty great way to come to after a drum solo. “Blind” boogies like Thin Lizzy, showing that the band could keep it a bit more simple when they wanted to; closer “Don’t Start Flying” features some brass instruments, which is totally weird, and totally works, especially when they’re duelling the guitars.

This one isn’t easy to find, but is worth the hunt to get a copy of, as it’s more than just a one-listen novelty and offers tons of rewards when the tunes are investigated further, as well as working as a great study in early ’70s German proto-prog-metal.

Night Sun’s Mournin’ – The Decibel breakdown:

Do I need to be stoned to listen to this?: We mentioned there’s a drum solo, right? Look, you don’t need to be, no. But we make no judgments regarding the measures anyone takes to get through a drum solo.

Heaviness factor: The organ really takes the heaviness down a notch, but it’s a sign of the times. This is a step above Deep Purple and Zep’s heaviest moments, but not at Sabbath levels of sonic intensity.

Obscura Triviuma: Were originally known as Night Sun Mournin’. Guitarist Walter Kirchgessner played cello in various string quartets and orchestras post-Night Sun.

Other albums: None.

Related bands: Take Five, Guru Guru.

Alright, fine, if you must: LSD. No doubt.