With this split Northern Silence Production is taking us on a trip of the Finnish black metal underground, not its raw and filthy corner, but, instead, the one inspired by nature and steeped in melancholy. The latter is, in fact, what perfectly unites all three collectives represented here, making the split work as well as it does.
The standard barrier here is, of course, Wyrd. Even though the band has been making its splashes in the underground, I have not yet had a chance to become its ardent supporter or stingy critic. Except a few samples, this has truly been my first introduction to the art the headman Narqath weaves. Vieraalla Maalla manages to project depressed feelings in the Norse setting. Opening guitar, sounding like a mouth-harp, immediately makes one to envisage an abandoned hut at the edge of some Polar Circle forest. The dream gets startled by an out-of-nowhere yelp, and then the song flows along, in its nonchalant tempo, cleaner leading guitar atop fuzzier background, caress and harshness intermixed. Narqath voice is actually semi-clean on Vieraalla Maalla, speaking, pleading to the listener, before it takes on a tubed-out otherworldly tone. The song continues to add layers throughout, eventually culminating into a double-bass supported melodic lead. Uupunut raises intensity and aggression by several notches, the composition drifting a lot closer to the more familiar black metal territory. Yet, among the blasts and torturous vocals, semi-acoustic guitar manages to punch out its message via melody and riffs.
The comparisons with Xasthur have to be made, but Wyrd sounds a lot less claustrophobic, and at times is even closer to Agalloch on The Mantle’s I Am the Wooden Doors and You Were but the Ghost in My Arms.
It is good to see that these two brand new tracks from Wyrd are used for Haive and Kehra to introduce themselves to the world. If anything, Haive is the most folk, native, pagan sounding of the bunch on this split. Epatoivon Vuoksi has a very prominent acoustic guitar and vast as a sky melody. Raina is altogether a folk tune, the combination of (now real!) mouth-harp and jingling glass bottles used as percussion. Metsa Koskematon oscillates between bard-like singing, some rough edged portions with cymbals crushing all over the place and shamanistic stomp. Of special note is how this brew does not sound as a mess. For a young band, producing just their third demo, the mix of folk clarity and black metal roughness is superb, with Haive strongly leaning on the former.
Kehra attempts to describe two elements, The Sea and The Forest, with its contribution. In their interpretation The Sea is a throbbing droning mid-pace tune, almost trance inducing, bringing the melody in subtle but continuous torrents, coming up on fever pitch at the composition’s end. If you liked what Giant Squid were doing on Metridium Fields, you will be well advised to seek out Kehra, on whom I have zero information. The Forest takes its time to unfold, the overly lengthy acoustic intro growing impatient with itself, finally exploding, and showing us that two elements are not really that different, with The Forest holding more rhythmic patterns and its chords being more swaying in the wind, rather than a headthrob, as is the case with The Sea.
Wyrd, already having its followers, it would be interesting to see if the other two bands can sustain the interest over the course of the full album. My bet is on Haive, with confidence.
Killing Songs :
Vieraalla Maalla, Epatoivon Vuoksi, The Sea
|Alex quoted 80 / 100|
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