PICK OF THE WEEK: Siberian edges scrape Yellow Eyes’ psyche on cold ‘Immersion Trench Reverie’

When one thinks of Siberia, often the assumption of the worst, most desolate place in the world comes to mind. We hear stories of Russian criminals being sent there for extended periods after being found guilty of crimes, and the thought of never-ending winter and unforgiving terrain is what makes up most of the imaginations so many of us have about the place.

Brothers Will and Sam Skarstad might give you a little bit of a different view of the place on their amazing new Yellow Eyes record “Immersion Trench Reverie.” You’re not going to get tales spun about that dreaded part of Russian on these six songs. But woven into the music are field recordings from the brothers’ trip to Siberia before they recorded their seventh release (fourth full-length) earlier in the spring. I always listen to the music before reading through the biographical material accompanying a record, and on first encounter, I felt like the music was colder and more abrasive than what was on “Sick With Bloom.” Those recordings that Skarstads (they are joined on the record by bassist Alex DeMaria and drummer M. Rekevics) gathered helped make that huge impression, as bells chime, the ground is crunched by footsteps, and dogs bark in the distance. It feels like battling against winds that are encased with freezing intent, and wrapped within all of that is their psychedelic haze they conjure with their tornadic black metal. This record is the further evolution of Yellow Eyes, and all this combined creates arguably the most memorable black metal record of 2017.

“Old Alpine Pang” slowly comes to life, as noise lingers, before things tear open in earnest with wild shrieks and sweltering riffs that spiral and infect your blood. That music keeps looping and attacking, later leading to a panic assault that jars the blood pressure. That furious pace lasts until the melody line rounds back, leading to a dizzying final minute. “Blue As Blue” begins in a haze, with strings plucked, and the tempo finally hitting a crescendo. A vocal fury shreds, as the song spins and spits fire, and then the soloing lathers the track in a thick fog. Melodies stun and cause vertigo, before a heavy mist and eerie chant singing take the song away. “Shrillness in the Heated Grass” has riffs piercing, while a trance-inducing pace lets loose. The shrieks scrape, while the playing keeps looping and enveloping, leading into a doomy stretch. Vibrant riffs arrive and soak the ground, as the music heavily mesmerizes, chills set in, and we hear calm settling, birds chirping, and chimes giving off a surreal vibe.

“Velvet on the Horns” lets off humid guitar work that floats and then ignites. Raspy howls rain down, while riffs bring thickening storms that settle over the area. The sound and power well up, while darkness bleeds out of the seams. The song laps like waves, while the song fades, and the final minutes are packed with footsteps cracking through the soil, bells ringing, dogs barking, and what feels like life on a frosty farmland. The title cut has riffs splattering, as the song boils to a head, and morbid tones bring soot. The guitars stab out, while the storm the music creates saturates the ground, the drums destroy, and shrieks tear away at the flesh. Closer “Jubilat” is the longest track, spilling over 10:40 that starts with chirps and chimes, leading toward savage strikes. Melody gushes, while the song creates a thick mist that makes it tough to see in front of you, and that only amplifies the intensity. Wrenching shrieks lash out, while the music digs deeper into your cells, strange lights penetrate the darkness, and the music bleeds out into the familiar sound of chimes ringing in the distance.

Yellow Eyes remain one of the most engaging, jarring bands in all of black metal, and their wintry glaze they sprinkle on “Immersion Trench Reverie” creates some of the finest music they’ve ever crafted. The band continues to add building blocks on their unique foundation, one that houses one of the strangest structures in all of black metal. There is no other experience quite like a Yellow Eyes record, and this is their most enthralling accomplishment.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/Yellow-Eyes-659862920738821/

To buy the album, go here (preorder up soon): https://gileadmedia.bandcamp.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://gileadmedia.net/

And here: http://www.sibirrecords.com/