Lys strikes out on his own, keeps paying homage to nature, forest on heart-surging ‘Silent Woods’

This is a great time to walk through the woods in the Northeastern United States, or it usually is, but we’re just climbing out from under summer. Like, it was 80 a couple days ago. But the weather forecast at least hints that cooler days might be ahead, and eventually the leaves will change, and then it’ll be prime time to take walks through the woods in Northeastern U.S.

That bleeds into tackling “Silent Woods,” the first record from Lys, who you might know better as a member of long-running Italian black metal band Enisum. On this four-track debut, the music doesn’t stray too far from his roots, but with a greater concentration on acoustics and cleaner singing in spots, there definitely is a reason for this to exist. Homage, quite naturally, is paid to the outdoors, most specifically the wooded areas of Northwestern Italy, where it looks like it’s still kind of balmy based on my Google search. The elements very much are a part of the music here, and when things go more rustic, it’s more propulsive than one might expect, which gives the music its unique attitude.

“Like Ashes in the Wind” opens with winds blowing and the guitars strummed, already packing on the thick atmosphere. The power kicks in with gutting shrieks that feel like they can topple you with their force, and then things blend into a more folkish territory with Lys’ clean singing pushing in. That adds to the essence and demonstrates just how diverse this project can be from one moment to the next, and the ripping terror comes back later, feeling mangling and bloody before calm returns and ends the track in a haze. “Mountains, Forests, Rivers” dawns with fires crackling and acoustics working in before the track blows up and goes for the throat sonically. Of course, the rustic winds blow before too long, with Lys’ nasally singing returning (that’s not a criticism) as the track gets into serene waters. The burst eventually happens as the vocals carve, the guitars layer, and speed explodes, rushing hard and making your blood surge before the track bows out.

“Bonfire” begins with calls echoing and fires burning with the guitars delving deep in folk terrain. The singing is creaky and strong, giving off an acoustic Alice in Chains vibe, which is never a bad thing, and then things get quiet and plodding, like night sneaking up on you. The singing then pushes, the playing is active, and the track disappears into the campfires. The title track ends the record, and it’s anything but silent as storms hang overhead, and then the track tears open, bringing raging chaos. The shrieks are bloody, and the drumming threatens to break through rock with great melodies raining down. The precipitation soaks as the pace picks up, acoustic blasts strike, and the playing hammers hard with shrieks crumbling and a melodic gust taking you out.

Lys ‘first turn on this solo project is a pretty rewarding one as “Silent Woods” is an album that treads similar waters as many others, but he adds some of his own flourishes that helps this sit apart from the rest. The vocals could cause some hesitation for some—I like them, but I can see where they could be a challenge—but that would be ignoring the great world created here and the music that feels like it is soaked in nature. Curious to hear where Lys goes from here and how the project develops, but this record is a really strong first step into the unknown.

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