Like a certain other band whose music was the subject of a premiere today, The Flight of Sleipnir is one we’ve been following for a long time as they’ve accumulated a substantial and increasingly impressive discography. In a feature more than six years ago devoted to their first four albums (created when the band was a duo, bound together by a clear and passionate love of heavy metal, heartfelt melody, and heroic Norse folklore), our Andy Synn characterized the music as a distinctive amalgam “whose earth-shaking, doomy power and sombre, progressive inclinations incorporate binding threads of folk-inflected melody and slithering strands of blackened fury”, while making room for “lengthy acoustic passages and folkish murmurations”.
In our review of the fifth album, V, Andy noted (here) that the songs were, on average, “longer and more intricate than on previous albums, with a greater sense of light and shade than ever before, their hidden depths and subtle secrets concealed beneath waves of gleaming melody and brilliant metallic clarity”. And their sixth album, 2017’s sublime Skadi, only enhanced the strength of the band’s reputation for crafting richly textured, dynamically nuanced, and stylistically diverse conglomerations of massive heaviness, acoustic serenity, and much, much more in between.
And thus we’ve been eagerly awaiting The Flight of Sleipnir’s seventh album, Eventide, which is now calendared for release by Eisenwald on May 28th. From that album, we’re proud to premiere its second advance track, “Servitude“, and to bring you a brief interview with guitarist/bassist Clayton Cushman.
For reasons discussed in that interview (which you’ll find at the end of this article), Eventide could be considered a flowing continuation onward from Skadi rather than any sharp departure. And in a sense, as Clayton relates, it’s also a time capsule, since the album was basically completed in 2019 — and then delayed in its release for the same reason so many other records were pushed into the future. But now its emergence is nearly at hand despite the pandemic interferences, and it’s likely that the delay will make it even more eagerly welcomed.
As we’ve come to expect from the band, “Servitude” is a soundscape marked by light and shade, though “shade” is too mild a word for the song’s rumbling heaviness, clawing chords, wailing leads, and shattering shrieks. Feelings of anguish, yearning, and desperation move through the beleaguered (but intensely memorable) melodies, building an ever-increasing sense of tension and turmoil.
When light does first break through the unnerving gloom in glittering tones, it’s almost a relief, but only a brief reprieve before the music begins to pound and grieve again. The progression of the song turns it in more introspective and moody directions, capped by a stately and soul-piercing guitar solo that provides a magnificent though heart-breaking finale.
We also encourage you to listen to the previously released album track, “Thaw“. Like “Servitude”, it’s a dark and sometimes desolate piece, whose poignant opening guitar lead wastes no time getting its dolorous hooks in your head. But unlike “Servitude” it includes heroic singing and generates an aura of tragic grandeur that becomes almost overpowering in its epic scale. It’s also an irresistibly head-moving and heart-pounding track, and one whose sad refrains will ring in your head long after it ends.
Eventide was recorded and mixed by the band’s Clayton Cushman, and it was mastered by Greg Chandler at Priory Recording Studios, with artwork by The Flight of Sleipnir‘s drummer and vocalist David Csicsely. Eisenwald will release the album on CD and digital formats, with apparel. You’ll find pre0order info next — followed by that promised interview.
THE FLIGHT OF SLEIPNIR:
The name of your new album (Eventide) and the cover art for it points toward the world at night. What inspirations did you draw upon for the new album, and what did you seek to achieve by it in terms of its effect on listeners?
There was not any chosen theme to the songs or the album, but when we stepped back after we decided which songs would be on the record we noticed it was all a bit dark, a bit black, which is why we all agreed that the evening would be a good place to start for a title and album cover– though I can’t remember if the title or the artwork came first….
Your music has always been eclectic, and not easily predictable from album to album. How would you describe the music on this new release, and how it might compare with what preceded it (especially the last album, Skadi)?
What stands out, I think, between Eventide and Skadi, is some of the drumming– it’s more intense on Eventide. The music, honestly, was written 3 or more years ago, directly after Skadi— so it was in a way a bit of a continuation, as most of our albums tend to flow… I think in general the music shifted towards a more irreverent attitude, a bit brash in a way — at least that is how I was feeling when I wrote some of it. Eventide just got held up by various things, so really it’s a bit of a time capsule in a way — though entirely relevant to these chaotic times.
Related to the last question, in writing and recording the new music, did you try new things?
The boring answer is: no… This album was done very much like Skadi for the most part. The process was just kind of stretched out over a longer period of time. However, we are taking a little bit of a different approach to our next thing, but one thing at a time ha ha!
What themes or ideas do the lyrics of the songs focus on, and are there any lyrical themes that tie the songs together?
I can only speak for the lyrics I wrote, but they basically are a study in Nihilism. Especially something like “January” for instance. The creation of the world, the end of the world, in the end… does it matter?
We’ve all lived through a bizarre and troubling last 12 months. Do you think the pandemic, the lockdowns, and assorted other upheavals affected the way the music on Eventide evolved, or the way you had to go about writing and/or recording the album?
Well… as I alluded to earlier, this album was basically done in 2019. There were a lot of things that got in the way, pandemic included, in terms of the release and final production schedule, but it was created before anyone had muttered the words “Coronavirus”…. So again, boring answer… but it’s the truth!!