It’s late at night, and you’re wandering. Red stains the horizon as the sun finishes its slow descent, and while you’re sure you’re situated somewhere in the warmer months, there still is a chill in the air that causes you to wonder and take inventory of your surroundings. You walk and walk, and as homes come into focus, you feel a comfort and an ease. At the same time, you’re wary because while this might look like a village in which you’ve lived and breathed before, something is amiss.
That same experience is how it feels traveling through “Rare Field Ceiling,” the fifth full-length record from Yellow Eyes, one of the most perplexing, alluring, and truly unique entities in the entire sub-genre. No one sounds like Yellow Eyes, and they sound like no one else, even if you can touch upon some influences, and buried in this six-track album is a journey that feels like one you’ve had before. But when you look closer, this is altogether new to you. Yes, much of what makes Yellow Eyes so perplexing is here from the brain-tunneling melodies to the inhuman barks to the strange chimes that fill the air (some of their Siberian-informed “Immersion Trench Reverie” spirits remain, but only as fading souls), but this one has new arcs, different twists, and a darker personality created by the band—guitarists/vocalists Will Skarstad, guitarist, Sam Skarstad, bassist Alexander DeMaria, and drummer Mike Rekevics. You’ll recognize some of the colors, but they’re distributed far differently than before.
“Warmth Trance Revival” starts with the windy chimes slowly bleeding in, synth rising, and a piercing shriek breaking into the night sky with sounds swirling and the elements forming a tornado. Guitars cut down into a proggy burst, wild cries erupt, and melodies roll into DeMaria’s powerful bassline. Leads sting, the song powers out, and acoustic strings are plucked as a choir calls, leading into “No Dust” that has riffs climbing the walls. Slow, anguished cries sink teeth into guts, while a dizzying pace is achieved before a delirious burst attacks. Things get disorienting as guitars return and cut through steel, while things keep tumbling, and the chimes come back and push into “Light Delusion Curtain” and its swelling riffs. The guitars release random colors as shrieks scrape skin, and a volcanic explosion spits out the earth. The assault is punishing and compelling, the bass bends around corners, and gazey guitars form a cloud and hang in the air.
“Nutrient Painting” is a total swarm before the song erupts, and tricky guitars twist the brain wiring before echoed screaming bounces off cave walls. Fierce chaos strips away flesh, while disorienting guitars play tricks with your mind, and the track keeps driving downward with emotional waves before ringing out into a thick haze. The title cut has drums unloading, Will screaming the song’s title, and then a strange calm washing in and stretching out. Riffs that sound like canon Yellow Eyes strike as speedy guitars hit the gas pedal, causing confusion and then outright destruction. The punishment continues to flow before noise begins barreling down the hill, and the heavy strangeness flows into final cut “Maritime Flame” that has the choral section returning and haunting, with shrieks and drone stepping in and overwhelming, and bizarre ambiance flooding the senses. Feral howls combine with cleanly dripping guitars, disarming solemnity floats like a ghost, and static chews as the song trails away.
The season and setting are important, but ultimately, what truly matters here are the psychological tunnels Yellow Eyes dig on “Rare Field Ceiling.” The power and imagination remain their own, and they insist on guiding this vessel themselves and, as a result, continue to get sharpened edges that pierce the flesh over and over again. They’re a rarity in black metal and in the entire genre itself of artists who don’t repeat themselves, carved their own voices, and are hellbent to ever do anything anyone else’s way.
For more on the band, go here: https://yelloweyes.bandcamp.com/
To buy the album or for more on the label, go here: https://gileadmedia.net/