Spectral Lore use grim ’11 Days’ to raise awareness for refugee crisis on Mediterranean waters

The internet is vast and littered with people with bad opinions, so the next comment I get on a story from a right-wing chud won’t be the first. But I’ve heard before from these people about how heavy metal does not have progressive politics and flies in the face of it, almost like they’ve never heard a single song from Sabbath, Black. You can’t teach everyone.

Metal has been a strong base for protest music since the start (again, reference Sabbath, Black), and Spectral Lore and its sole creator Ayloss never have been shy about their mission to support social justice and progressive goals. The project’s latest is an EP called “11 Days,” named that for the length it time it takes people to travel the refugee sea route to Europe through the Mediterranean Sea. That trek has resulted in the deaths of about 26,000 people between 2014 and 2022 (according to the Missing Migrants Project), an incomprehensible toll for people just trying to find a better life. Not take yours. They’re trying to survive, and politics have helped cause this body count. Ayloss composed four tracks that run about 44 minutes, two of which are in the traditional black metal style while the other two play more with electronics and ambiance. Joining Ayloss here are Nate Collins (synths, electronics, vocals), Odile Aurora Strik (synth and field recordings), a member of the Yovel collective (vocals), V. and K. from VOAK (vocals, a guitar solo on Adro Onzi”), and Aris “Sadistik” Thanasoulas (vocals). All proceeds from the digital edition and an important part of later physical editions will be donated to organizations and collectives that offer direct aid and rescue refugees in distress in the Mediterranean.

“Moloch” starts things, an 11:05-long adventure that head into spiraling guitars and an immersive storm, growls scraping at vulnerable flesh. Things speed up as the drums maul, beastly wails driving the hammer, and a gothy underbelly with synth and dripping darkness immerse you in darkness. Things get thundering again as the riffs mangle, guttural stomping bruises, and the guitars loop into a shadowy darkness that zaps out and into “Fortitude/Sunrise.” This spacey, mostly instrumental piece centers on psychedelic wonders as sounds rush, and the keys make the room spin, beaming through clouds and feeling a little Pink Floyd-esque. Everything whirs as the chills increase, beats churn, and everything pulsates, spilling into 13:45-long “Adro Onzi” that tears itself apart immediately. Savagery crushes as the warped tones play with your mind, howls crush, and speedy black metal tramples. Things get uglier as the tempo increases, the storming gets more oppressive, and sounds cascading into a foggy darkness. Growls slither as the playing gets disorienting, and then monstrous howls strike, the blistering pace making balance tough to conquer, speeding and devastating into a soundscape. Closer “Tremor/Kalunga Line” starts with sounds knocking through a haze, sheets of synth raining down, and a detached voice asking, “What did you dream about?” Noise swims into calming winds, stimulating your mind and sending chills down your spine, the intensity once again rupturing and fading into the waves.

“11 Days” isn’t just an extra-large Spectral Lore EP; it’s a collection of music trying to raise awareness of something larger than heavy metal. It shows compassion for people who are trying to find a better life and lashing back against the myriad forces trying to stop safe passage. Musically, it’s one of the most daring and spacious music Ayloss has created yet, and it’s an incredible piece that hopefully can help do some good in the world.   

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

To buy the album, go here: https://spectrallore.bandcamp.com/album/11-days

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