(Andy Synn reviews the new EP by Wild Hunt from the Bay Area of California.)
So I’ve really been enjoying discovering all these EPs lately. It’s not exactly been a conscious thing though, it just seems we’ve been enjoying a fantastic run of short, perfectly proportioned releases during the first half of this year.
Scroll and Urn is another one to add to the list, although we’re actually coming to it pretty late in the day, as it’s been available since the 17th of April from the band’s Bandcamp page.
If you visit the esteemed site known as Metal-Archives and search for the name Wild Hunt (and then click on the correct entry… handy tip: it’s the one without a “The” in front of it) you’ll see that the band are listed as Progressive Doom Metal/Post-Black Metal. However, this seems something of a misnomer to me.
While there’s certainly a strong progressive, and enviably creative, undercurrent to the music (as well as a gloaming shade of ominous, oppressive Doom) this is Black Metal to the core, with none of this “Post” nonsense to muddy the waters.
Oh there might be touches of gloom-laden ambience here and there, but these are just that… touches… they don’t define the record, or the band’s sound. If anything their sound has a more “Atmospheric” quality, than it does anything to do with “Post-“ metal… Black or otherwise.
I suppose I might be splitting hairs there in some people’s eyes, but I think it’s important to ensure that you don’t go into this with any misconceptions. Scroll and Urn has more in common with albums like Obsidium and Sovereigns by Belgium overlords Enthroned, than it does with the navel-gazing Berkeley set.
The harrowing whirlwind of “Illimitable Corridors” – six minutes of dense, demonic riffage and poignantly progressive twists — and the gravel-throated vocals and flayed riffs of the storm-driven “Enumerate” both echo with a harrowing, ritualistic undertone, whilst throwing in a number of clever surprises along the way (for example, the proggy, Cormorant-esque penultimate solo near the close of “Enumerate”).
Whilst separating the two is the vast, chasmic gulf of the EP’s title-track, “Scroll and Urn”, which cribs a few ideas from the Leviathan/Altar of Plagues book of slow-burning, atmospheric horror and weaves them into a five-minute funeral pyre for the hopes and dreams of man, building from an ethereal, irradiated landscape of simmering, ambient sound, towards a cavernous eruption of post-apocalyptic fury and genre-blending lead parts, only to (anti)climax in a slow dissolution of lilting, whispered melody lines and faded, chanting vocals.
If you hadn’t gathered by now, I’m very much in love with this EP. Every ravaged, caustic riff. Every spiteful, god-touched howl. Every soaring, prism-shattering solo and every stuttering, neck-snapping, blastbeat. Every brooding, ugly, oddly beautiful second of it.
It’s a fantastic piece of work, and I hope that it finds the audience it richly deserves.