I have no complaints about 2014 here at Meat Mead Metal. We had more readers than ever before, we covered a ridiculous amount of music, and we got to take some incredible trips to see some killer bands and hang out with people we mostly only had interaction with over the Internet.
But it’s 2015 now, so we close that book and look forward to what this New Year brings us. We have some things planned we’ll unveil over the next few weeks (hint: we’ve been lax is covering one of the words in the title of this website, which we will remedy), though for the most part it will be business as usual. But before we get there, we have to go back and give some time and love to a couple of smaller releases from the tail end of last year that we didn’t get to cover. Truth be told, one of these came to my attention late in the year, while the other had been sitting in my inbox waiting for me to finally discover it. Both are exciting, forward-thinking groups that refuse to paint by numbers and make me excited for their respective futures.
Darkher is a project that is an intriguing, haunting trip through the mind and artistic spirit of Jayn H. Wissenberg. The West Yorkshire-based artist offered up her debut EP “The Kingdom Field” late last year in Prophecy Production, and it’s an effort that should excite those who rely on that label’s great ear for talent as well as other musicians such as Chelsea Wolfe, PJ Harvey, and Marissa Nadler. To call the record merely neo-folk would be selling it short. There is that element on these four tracks, but you’re mostly getting ghostly transmissions, sold beautifully by Wissenberg’s entrancing voice, that sound like they were delivered by lost souls in the dead of night. With each visit, I feel like I’m traveling down a lonely stream, in a boat that fits one, with only the moonlight to enlighten my way.
Fittingly, the first track is called “Ghost Tears,” and it begins with eerie, chilling music that could make your skin freeze. The clean guitar work churns, with her soft vocals treading ever so gently but effectively. Cello cuts through like a knife (it sounds scintillating on headphones), energy charges, and the strangeness fades into the night. “Hung” follows and enraptures over its 6:33, with guitar work trickling and Wissenberg’s singing making your hairs stand on end. The melodies will get inside of you and move you, especially when she announces, “Here we are,” as if she’s signaling her arrival. The music is murky and foggy (seems we keep revisiting that theme), with the final moments dramatic and dreary. “Foregone” is the longest track at 7:14, with noise stinging the ears and a rather sinister-sounding guitar line grabbing hold. The drums begin to echo slowly, an element not all that present on this album, and unease starts to take hold. Layers are built on top of each other, with a strange sense of Western noir taking shape, and the song makes its rightful disappearance into mystery and the beginning moments of the closing title track. This brief, closing instrumental is the perfect come down, a chance to wake from your dream refreshed and a little perplexed by what you heard.
Wissenberg’s work is worth your while, something that might not please the tough-guy contingent among us with no imagination or sense of daring but should resonate with anyone who likes to take a journey with their music. I cannot wait to hear more from this talented musician and this Darkher project that’s made a huge impression with just one release.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/DARKHERMUSIC
To buy the album, go here: http://www.theconnextion.com/prophecy/prophecy_index.cfm?
Or here: http://en.prophecy.de/shop/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.prophecy.de/
When one thinks of Nordic black metal, surely the mind races back to the Second Wave and the early 1990s. And why not? That era established a sub-genre that would go on to be adored and feared, and the amount of world-toppling music that came from that country is to be respected. But in a way, that reverence sickens some minds. It’s like a black metal band has to tread a certain path, otherwise they’re not true, not real. Funny for a style of music that was set to burn the rules to the ground. Luckily, musicians such as Jan F. Lindso, who is the sole creator behind Vyrju, follows his own inhibitions, and not someone else’s. The project has been up and running for nearly a decade now, but his debut EP “Black” more than makes up for his absence from a recording standpoint. We’ll get more into this when we go track by track, but don’t expect a formulaic, all-nails record here. Lindso keeps you guessing, and these four songs are a fantastic start for this band.
The album gets off to a pretty nice beginning with a dirty, thrashy groove that could make some wonder what this is all about. Then Lindso shows his hand and opens into complete devastation, with great guitar work, harsh shrieks that could rupture the ear drums, and raw, furious playing. “I am darkness, I am misery!” he howls, as the song burns hard and eventually comes to its riotous end. Killer opener. “There Is No Grave Big Enough to Take All My Sorrows” is where we start to meet some of the uniqueness of this music. Lindso was wise enough to enlist Tim Yatras (Germ, Austere, ex-Woods of Desolation) to add clean vocals to the track, giving it a richer, more atmospheric touch. Eventually, the growls come crashing in, with the lead guitar work burning brightly, melodies getting into your bloodstream, and the finish buzzing heavily but eventually bleeding into the thought-provoking “Gone.” It’s but an instrumental, and a little under two minutes, but it’s effective and darkly melodic. That takes us into our closer “The Residue of Life,” which begins with a rock-solid melody and goes into unforgiving savagery. There is killer playing that should make your senses burst, with Yatras returning to lend his soaring voice, and the tempo keeps ramping up and making you light headed with power. Everything fires hard until the final moments, when the music subsides, and the fury fades into black.
Those who can reconcile having a record collection heavy on early Darhthrone and the newer stuff from Alcest (such as me) are sure to spend plenty of time with “Black.” I love hearing black metal with an openness to it, because you never really know where the artist will go from here. The rules are to be ignored, and I love that. It’s savage enough and plenty daring, making this project one that could be an act that could blaze new paths in the future. For now, Vyrju seem content to make furious waves in the present.
For more on the band, go here: http://vyrju.net/
To buy the album, go here: http://blackforest.no/shop
For more on the label, go here: http://blackforest.no/