On May 14th a pair of black metal bands whose music seems to be the emanations of kindred spirits — Calgary’s Albanach ar Dheis and Seattle’s Nihtwintre — will release a new split EP. It includes two tracks by the former and three by the latter, and todays it’s our pleasure to premiere a song by each band.
When you hear these songs, you may have the feeling (as this writer did) that they’re not completely of our world, that they have more in common with ancient times than with modernity, or perhaps channel expressions from spirit realms rather than the habitations of flesh and bone. They’re also both intense and immersive, capable of taking you out of yourself for as long as they last.
ALBANACH AR DHEIS: “MONS GRAPIUS”
Albanach ar Dheis is principally the project of Månas Reaver, who composed the band’s songs on the split and was responsible here for orchestrations, keyboards, drums, and harsh vocals, but for the split he was also joined by guitarist Colin Ryley (who also mixed and mastered the music at Singularity Sound Studios), bassist Andy Meyer, and guest vocalist Marlee Ryley.
The song from this band’s side of the split that you’ll be able to stream below is “Mons Grapius“. As forecast above, it’s an engrossing and mesmerizing song, often beautiful and often wrenching, with one foot in the real world and another in a firmament that doesn’t seem real at all. The high, whirring, tremolo’d melody that unfolds over a slow drum and bass rhythm is vibrant yet melancholy, and an element of agony comes in through Reaver’s shrieking voice. The drumming itself becomes more vibrant, like a jumping pulse, and the melody more piercing, with other instrumentation (a second feverish guitar and mystical keyboard tones) joining in to create a harmony that’s textured with pain, wistfulness, and wonder — just as the shrieking voice is joined by celestial singing in a sequence of memorable duets.
The combination of all these ingredients creates multifaceted emotional intensity, which also comes to include the shadow of depressive gloom as well as the flame of anguish and anger before it ends.
NIHTWINTRE: “THE WITHERING GROVE”
We’ve had occasion previously to comment on the music of this Seattle band (the sole creation of Vælfáhlic), when Nihtwintre participated in a 2017 split with Vermin Lord (reviewed here). For this split, Nihtwintre contributed three tracks, one of which (“”Nightwraith of the Wintercrypt”) was revealed previously, and one more of which we’re sharing today — “The Withering Grove“.
To these ears, a medieval atmosphere surrounds the music in this song, but also an air of unreality. It leaps from the speakers in penetrating fashion, propelled by livid, battering drums and a vibrant bass throb, swirling with the reverberations of a high guitar melody that’s gleaming and glorious. Accompanied by harsh howling vocals, the melody is riotous and riveting, spawning images of wild, whirling dances high up in the air, the dancers carried aloft by the heat of midnight bonfires, spinning madly beneath the stars.
In time, you might begin to sense a feeling of unhealthy delirium in the music, as well as extravagant joy, and near the end even a mood of hopelessness and fear raises its head, just before a spellbinding piano instrumental, accompanied by the shimmer of celestial strings, draws this wonderful song to a close.
The split is available for pre-order now, both on cassette and digitally — but be aware that if you’re only interested in the digital files, you’ll need to acquire each group’s tracks separately, at their own Bandcamp pages. You can order the tapes at either location. The cover art was created by Dusty Peterson, with layout by David Dees.
PRE-ORDER – TAPE AND DIGITAL NIGHTWINTRE TRACKS:
PRE-ORDER – TAPE AND DIGITAL ALBANACH AR DEHIS TRACKS: