4. NOCTULE, ‘Wretched Abyss’ (Translation Loss/Church Road)

I have a bit of a jealousy for people who are really good at videogames and have the commitment to see them through. I used to be that way, but I’m tired, which isn’t a very good excuse. Noctule, the black metal project solely helmed by Serena Cherry (guitarist/vocalist for Svaldbard) not only can commit to a game, but she wrote an entire goddamn album about “Skyrim,” and it gives me more guilt over my laziness.

On “Wretched Abyss,” she digs into classic second-wave black metal without the shitty politics, hammering with eight tracks that are flooding with melodic riffs and adventurous playing that it’s super easy to get caught up in everything. Cherry’s guitar work always was a huge highlight of Svalbard’s music, but it’s even more gigantic and alluring here, and her vocals are downright mean and vicious. This is an awesome display that buries you in power and strength, engulfing you in dragon fire. It’s an album I loved instantly, and it only grew on me since then, becoming something that always was somewhere in the periphery, threatening with chaos.

“Elven Sword” gets us started with shrieks and a melodic gush before the pace is shredded, and great leads hold it all together as the glue. The track jolts your blood, the guitars remain white hot, and the fury drowns out at the end. “Labyrinthian” is spacious when it starts with great melodies pouring in and the riffs just flexing in your face. Cherry’s vocals crush as everything spills into a breezy gaze, a quick breather after your throat is chopped heavily. The playing is elegant and dark, guitars flood your senses, and everything burns out with heavy emotion. “Evenaar” opens with a different pace as the playing chugs, the growls crush, and the leads add new rays of light. There’s a warmer post-rock vibe to much of this before the drums come unglued, your head fills up with clouds, and the growls well, sent to the finish line with devastating guitar work. “Winterhold” has great leads swimming as a thick fog rises, and then everything gives way to speed. The drums club as the playing encircles, exciting gusts make your adrenaline surge, and the shrieks maul, burning off into the night. “Deathbell Harvest” drips into the scene before rushing through, as the riffs stab and draw spurts of blood. The melodies crush amid warmth while the playing churns guts. The leads explode with energy, Cherry’s shrieks devastate, and the guitar work makes lava spit from the earth as the track winds down. This album makes me want to re-engage with “Skyrim” even if it inserts me hopelessly locked in the throes of vertigo. (May 28)

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

To buy the album (North America), go here: https://orcd.co/wretchedabyss

Or here (Europe): http://www.churchroadrecords.com/products/search?q=noctule

For more on the label, go here: https://translationloss.com/

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

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