PICK OF THE WEEK: The Flight of Sleipnir infuse dream-swelled atmosphere on riveting ‘Skadi’

tfos2016Bands come along now and then that I can’t believe more people aren’t into. Not that people aren’t necessarily sweet on said music, but these bands don’t carry with them the ridiculous word of mouth than can turn a group from nobody to the greatest thing on the planet in 24 hours.

For all their time as a band, The Flight of Sleipnir never have been a recipient of a massive furor pushing people to their records. That’s a shame, because for the past decade and over the course of six records, the Colorado-based band have done nothing but turn out good music. Their mix of doom, psychedelics, and black metal are blended so well, and with their unique personality, I find the band ridiculously listenable. Their latest album, the rushing “Skadi,” is another heavy dose of Norse-inspired lore (after all, the record is named after a Norse goddess and hunter who lives in the mountains where snow never ends, and she adorns the cover) and stirring music that not only should please those who have been along for this band’s raucous ride, but it should turn on newcomers who are down with groups such as Panopticon, Enslaved, Agalloch, Obsequiae, and others. FoS do not sound like those bands, but they operate in a similar headspace. So, there’s a good chance there will be serious crossover appeal. Or shit, just listen to the Flight of Sleipnir because they’re an awesome band that keeps getting better with the ages.

cover_1500_rgbThe Flight of Sleipnir started off as a duo and remained that way until just last year. David Csicsely (drums, vocals, guitars) and Clayton Cushman (guitars, vocals, bass, and keyboard) have been the driving force of the band for their entire run, but in 2016 Justin Siegler joined up on guitar, and David Borrusch took over bass duties. Both members have played as part of the live ensemble in the past, but now they’re a part of the solidified group. The band’s first full-length arrived just two years after they formed, with “Algiz + Berkanan” landing in 2009, and they’ve come back pretty regularly since then, with their last one, “V.,” coming three years ago on Napalm. They’ve moved to the steady Eisenwald for “Skadi,” a record as strong as anything in their catalog.

The adventure starts with 10:29 “Awaken” that opens slowly and immediately immerses itself in coldness. Moody guitars slide as shadows are cast over the land, and then spacious screams stretch while a strong, epic tempo unfurls. Clean, dream-inducing singing rushes in as the lead guitar work bathes in gaze, cosmic keys rise, and the song slowly fades away. “Tenebrous Haze” gets chunky right away with a static-filled bassline, doomy riffs, and harsh growls. The song has a sense of atmosphere, but it’s also heavy as hell, as grisly and melodic elements combine and swell before the band breaks down the song and thrashes away. Acoustics take over as spirited singing joins, and glorious guitars bubble up and soar, bringing the song to a riveting finish.

“Earthen Shroud” is dusty and folk-led at the start, with harmonized singing adding unexpected textures, and spacey, chilled playing raising goosebumps. Keys create a blur, while sounds whir in a halo around your head, and the guitars begin to heat up and thaw the ice. Harsh cries tear apart the serenity, but it’s only for a moment, and heartfelt singing returns, as guitars kick up to add a rushing sense to the final minutes. “Voices” is a dreamy instrumental with acoustic splashes, moody and haunting passages, and strings quivering, driving into your senses and preparing you for the 11:20 title track finale. There are taps and cymbal smashes that raise the curtain, while riffs begin to ramble, and the growled vocals wrench your muscles. There is a great deal of pounding balanced by another dose of harmonized singing, and then the guitar soloing takes on a classy, jazzy edge, not unlike Opeth’s earlier days. Harsh shrieks pierce the serenity, while the band trudges heavily, and a numb psychedelic wash works its way over you and takes you off to deep slumber full of vivid journeys.

If the metal gods, if those even exist, are just, the Flight of Sleipnir will find a healthy new audience with “Skadi.” The record is a fine rush of emotion, the metallic version of riding aboard Odin’s eight-legged steed into the sky. This is a band that’s operated under the radar for far too long, and this record is strong enough for them to capture as many hearts and minds as they so desire.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/THEFLIGHTOFSLEIPNIR

To buy the album, go here: http://records.eisenton.de/merch

For more on the label, go here: http://www.eisenton.de/