Sol Invictus is an English neofolk and neoclassical group fronted by Tony Wakeford. Wakeford has been the sole constant member of the group since its inception, although numerous musicians have contributed and collaborated with Wakeford under the Sol Invictus moniker over the years.
For information on Wakeford's musical projects preceding Sol Invictus, please see his entry on Wikipedia.
After disbanding his controversial project Above the Ruins, Wakeford returned to the music scene with Sol Invictus in 1987. Since then Sol Invictus has had many musician contributions, including Sarah Bradshaw, Nick Hall, Céline Marleix-Bardeau , Nathalie Van Keymeulen, Ian Read and Karl Blake.
Wakeford repeatedly referred to his work as folk noir. Beginning with a mixture of a rough, bleak, primitive post punk sound and acoustic/folk elements, the band's music gradually evolved toward a lush, refined style, picking up classically trained players such as Eric Roger, Matt Howden, and Sally Doherty. In the mid-1990s, Sol Invictus spun off a side project called L'Orchestre Noir (later changed to Orchestra Noir) to explore an even more classically influenced direction. 2005 saw the departure of longtime contributors Roger and Blake, leading to a new line-up including Caroline Jago, Lesley Malone and Andrew King.
In 1990, Wakeford formed his own label, Tursa, to release his material and the music of other artists. The World Serpent Distribution Company previously distributed this material worldwide, followed then by Cold Spring Records. In July 2007, the label was re-launched as a partnership with Israeli producer and musician Reeve "M" Malka. In 2009, Sol Invictus signed to Prophecy Records. In June 2011, Sol Invictus announced the end of their partnership both with Cold Spring Records and musician Andrew King.
Imagery and content:
The name Sol Invictus, which is Latin for 'the unconquered Sun', derives from the Roman cult of the same name.
The band's imagery and lyrical content, in its early days, was influenced by traditionalism and antipathy towards the modern world and materialism. A superficial interest was the Italian philosopher Julius Evola who Wakeford admits to "shamelessly stealing from" for song titles even though he found his books "unreadable". A more serious influence was the poet Ezra Pound: "I think Pound is one of the greatest poets ever, although some of his work is mind-numbingly obscure. I disagree with his antisemitism but that should not blind people to his worth as an artist."
The band also had considerable interest in heathen and Mithraist themes, often reflecting an explicit antipathy to Christianity: the 1997 album The Blade incorporates an Odinic chant, Gealdor, into its varied laments. Wakeford tended to write from a melancholic position of doomed Romanticism, which lamented the loss of beauty, love, and culture. He saw the American influence on global culture as very damaging to Europe, something he expresses with black humour in the song "Death of the West", from the album of the same name. The later albums have seen a turn to a more personal writing style, as interest in what Wakeford calls "knee-jerk anti-Americanism and anti-Christianity" has been rejected.
Sol Invictus album artwork has often showcased the expressionist paintings of American artist, musician and friend Tor Lundvall.
Wakeford's mid-1980s membership in the British National Front and the appearance of a track from his band, Above The Ruins, on the "No Surrender!" compilation released in 1985 by Rock-O-Rama Records, alongside the Nazi groups Skrewdriver and Brutal Attack, has meant that Sol Invictus have been accused of neofascism. Wakeford has responded to this criticism various times, stating that his involvement with the National Front "was probably the worse (sic) decision of my life and one I very much regret", and that various members of his band (including his wife of eight years at the time) "would be at best discriminated against or at worse dead if a far-right party took power" and further that "none of the artists I work with hold such views either, and I doubt they would want to work with me if they thought I did." In June 2011 the band, following attempts to cancel one of their concerts in London, stated that all its members "are personally completely and unequivocally opposed to fascism, racism, anti-semitism and homophobia, ... and our work makes no attempt to appeal to an audience looking for this kind of message", also stating explicitly that they did not have "any sympathy with national anarchism, or any desire to work with its adherents".