Metal Chick of the Month – Jayn Maiven

So long in fear, I have gazed ghost tears….

It’s time to darken the skies here at The Headbanging Moose in this month of May thanks to the somber and absolutely beautiful music crafted by our metal lady of the month, and I bet you’ll get addicted to her voice after listening to her Stygian creations. Inspired by natured in all her forms, this West Yorkshire, England-based vocalist and multi-instrumentalist is known by many under her nom de plume of Darkher, one of the most interesting names of the current folk and doom scene worldwide. I’m talking about Jayn Maiven, a multi-talented woman who devotes her life to dark music for our total delight, and who has a beyond bright future ahead of her and her Darkher as all of her releases are simply awesome.

As I like to say about this type of project, there’s no Jayn Maiven without Darkher and vice-versa, with Darkher representing not only Jayn’s alter-ego but also her view of our world, using her musical creature as a catharsis that can be noticed from her painful and truthful lyrics. Conceived as the sole brainchild and solo project of our unrelenting flame-haired metal diva in 2012, whose fragile elegance lies the creator of a powerfully emotive work, Darkher brings forth an amalgamation of sounds and styles carefully embraced by the project’s trademark fusion of folk and doom music, with her compositions inviting the listener into the mystical ancient world characterized by slowly building storm clouds of guitars and Jayn’s haunting, spine-tinglingly evocative voice.

Having already released her self-titled debut EP in 2013, followed by the 2014 EP The Kingdom Field and the full-length albums Realms, from 2016, and The Buried Storm, released earlier this year, the sound of Darkher has been described as “ghostly transmissions that sound like they were delivered by lost souls in the dead of night”, leading her to support several renowned acts the likes of Robin Guthrie, Dead Meadow, Esben And The Witch, Enslaved and Chelsea Wolfe, and playing in festivals such as Roadburn Festival and Damnation, among others. Creating extraordinarily dark music full of contrasts, including both chilling loneliness and the warmth of hope, Darkher is a derivate of the words “dark” and “her”, showcasing some sort of symbolism from Jayn’s past as she wanted to find a name which she felt better described the direction she had been heading in with her solo career after a decade working with and around other musicians.

Several different guest musicians have already been involved with Jayn in Darkher, such as for example guitarist and bassist Martin Wissenberg, former My Dying Bride drummer Shaun ‘Winter’ Taylor-Steels, drummer Christopher Smith, cellists Ludvig Swärd (Forndom), Arianna Mahsayeh and Melanie Chaplin, violinist Lambert Segura and guitarist Daniel Land. If you want to see the result of the collaboration between our skillful vocalist, guitarist, composer, lyricist and producer with all those distinguished musicians, you can enjoy the official videos on YouTube for Where the Devil Waits (filmed at the stunning location of Muncaster Castle in Cumbria, within its Victorian gardens and grounds), a song of empowerment and light relating to the shadows within that lead to attachment, to what can become destructive; Love’s Sudden Death, a dark, romantic ballad which was heavily inspired by the mood of the ancient landscape as it mirrors the emotions within, being “dramatic, beautiful and sometimes bleak” as mentioned by Jayn herself; Hollow Veil, recorded in Salem Woods in October 2015; as well as Ghost Tears, Immortals, Lament, and The Dawn Brings a Saviour, or you can also enjoy The Buried Storm in its entirety on YouTube, and all of her albums on Spotify. Also, don’t forget to show your support to Jayn and her Darkher by purchasing her releases from her BandCamp page and through her Patreon.

Before forming Darkher, our unstoppable rock and metal diva was a member of Epic Dark Folk band The Steals for several years, having released with them the EP Floodlights, in 2006, and the full-length effort Stactic Kingdom, in 2009, both available on Spotify and on BandCamp. However, that wasn’t the path she actually wanted to follow in her career after a certain time. “Throughout the years I was previously working on tracks for The Steals album and EP, I was in a very sombre state and I needed to make music to lift me out of that state. By the time I was ready to start writing songs again for what would be Darkher, I felt that I needed to symbolically burn what I had in order to begin a new chapter,” commented Jayn in one of her interviews, describing the musical metamorphosis that was happening inside her.

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In addition, her inspirations in music and life in general come from very distinct sources. For instance, she always says that her father has been a huge inspiration to her growing up, with both her parents having encouraged her passion for creating music for many years. “I am mostly inspired by my inner world, emotions and imagination, which I run in parallel to the outer world. Nature and the elements are always with me when I write, and are equally as inspiring for me due to their mood and drama,” said Jayn in one of her interviews, also mentioning that her lyrics are always from her deepest depths, past, future or present, and showcasing a strong fascination for water. “When I walk each day to The Kingdom Field I pass a river, everyday is a different picture, it has its own life force and seemingly personality. Where I live is surrounded by water, I live in the basin of a valley, a hamlet which is surrounded by streams, rivers and a canal all of which have caused flooding. So I think because of this I am deeply respectful of water in its many forms.”

Heavily influenced by mood-based dark music from an early age, and having a father who performed on stage in the 60’s, not only she grew up in a musical house but she has always nurtured a deep passion for the darker exponents of the post punk indie scene. “I was really into bands like the Sex Gang Children, Virgin Prunes and Alien Sex Fiend. I’ve always suffered with a bit of a depression and as a teenager was drawn to dark music and the whole theatrical Goth thing. I loved the textures and atmosphere of guitars,” also saying that at one point she was completely absorbed by the Cocteau Twins and she used to re-play their performance of Pink Orange Red on the TV every night after school. On the other hand, if you think Amalie Bruun’s Danish Black Metal band Myrkur has had any influence on Darkher’s style, being even called “Myrkur for the Folkies”, you’re absolutely wrong. “I’ve only come across her name very recently, I haven’t listened to her music yet, so I’m not sure if there is any thread of similarity,” said our diva.

When asked about her evolution from Realms until The Buried Storm, Jayn said that she sees it as a continuation of her creativity, feeling like it has many similar elements in the instrumentation, though she puts even more emphasis on the vocal harmonies as a feature on her newest album and she believes it leans towards a more cinematic feel. Moreover, the pandemic doesn’t seem to have had a negative impact on her creative process for The Buried Storm. “The effects of the pandemic were actually quite beneficial for me, to be able to take time out from any tour dates and really focus on the writing and recording. I also spent even more time alone, which I found to be very necessary for the writing process,” commented Jayn, and we must all agree with her the whole pandemic has been positive at least for the writing process of not only Darkher but countless other bands out there, who obviously had a lot more time to focus on their creative process with the whole touring thing being on hold for almost two years.

Interested in art and photography, beautiful and inspiring imagery, animals and nature, Jayn tries to spend half of her life outdoors, also nurturing a deep passion for doing videos and photographic imagery, which for her is all part of the creative process. “When I make music I see a lot of visions and imagery, so it’s great to be able to achieve some of that in video form,” said Jayn, which can be easily noticed in the video for Ghost Tears, for example. “The environment that I am surrounded by and the vast landscape is always in my mind when I write as I see music in a very visual way. For this reason I would love to one day try to write for film or TV and I equally feel the presence of many images when I write or produce. The studio walls otherwise would not inspire me to develop the sound and present it in such a way,” complemented our multi-talented artist. And lastly, when asked what the secret is to keep her long flaming hair look so grandiose and beautiful, she simply said there’s no actual secret, just that she never cuts it and therefore it serves her well for hiding behind it. Well, of course we would love to see her face on all of her videos, but the combination of nature and her long, incendiary hair is more than enough to keep us hooked not only on her music, but on her stunning art in general.

Darkher’s Official Facebook page
Darkher’s Official Instagram
Darkher’s Official YouTube channel
Darkher’s Official BandCamp page

“I find it very healing to make music, like a form of meditation.” – Jayn Maiven

Album Review – Nechochwen / Kanawha Black (2022)

This Apalači Folk Metal entity returns from the underworld after seven years of silence with a new album that will further cement their rich and powerful legacy.

Born out of the desire to explore the heritage of the Eastern Woodland Indians of North America through stunning classical guitar instrumentation and lush atmosphere, West Virginia, United States-based Black/Folk Metal entity Nechochwen (a Lenape word that basically means “walks alone”) returns from the underworld seven years after the release of the full-length album Heart of Akamon with a new opus, entitled Kanawha Black, the fourth studio effort in their already solid career. Playing what they like to call “Apalači Folk Metal”, the duo comprised of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Nechochwen and bassist and drummer Pohonasin offers in their new album fierce melodies, heartfelt compositions and riff stylings that will further cement the rich and powerful legacy that they’ve nurtured since their inception in 2005, being highly recommended for admirers of the music by Panopticon, Agalloch and Falls of Rauros, among others.

The incendiary riffs by Nechochwen are powerfully complemented by the blast beats by Pohonasin in the opening tune Kanawha Black, a fulminating Black and Folk Metal onrush where Nechochwen roars like a demonic entity while also providing top-notch clean vocals. Then we’re treated to The Murky Deep, where a tribalistic, folk start evolves into a Melodic Black Metal feast spearheaded by the massive drums by Pohonasin and the gentle acoustic guitars by Nechochwen. Furthermore, it’s truly impressive how they blend the most primeval folk elements with their more extreme core sound, which is also the case in I Can Die But Once, bringing forward over six minutes of ethereal, atmospheric passages intertwined with bursts of anger and obscurity, resulting in a multi-layered adventure through the realms of Neofolk for admirers of the genre.

And those mesmerizing sounds flow into the rumbling Folk Metal extravaganza titled A Cure for the Winter Plagues, where Nechochwen sounds like a beast with his deep roars and piercing guitars while Pohonasin will make your head tremble armed with his bass. Then investing in a more direct Atmospheric Black Metal sonority it’s time for the duo to crush our souls in Visions, Dreams, and Signs, bringing to our ears seven minutes of blackened riffs, infernal drums and the always hellish gnarls by Nechochwen, whereas their second to last breath of Black and Folk Metal comes in the form of Generations of War, presenting pulverizing growls and hammering drums that will smash you mercilessly while folk elements add a touch of finesse in the background. Lastly, the duo once again captivates our senses with their acoustic sounds in Across the Divide, another solid display of the band’s dexterity and passion for heavy music, with their Heavy Metal-infused guitars sounding utterly awesome.

After all is said and done, it’s a true pleasure to witness the triumphant return to action by Nechochwen with the excellent Kanawha Black after such a long period of silence, and if you want to put your hands on the album you can already preporder it directly from the band’s own BandCamp page or from the Bindrune Recordings’ BandCamp page. Moreover, don’t forget to also follow the duo on Facebook for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know details, and to stream all of their atmospheric creations on Spotify, getting more familiarized with their music and, consequently, being able to explore the North American Indian heritage together with Nechochwen and Pohonasin in the name of the band’s trademark Apalači Folk Metal.

Best moments of the album: Kanawha Black and Visions, Dreams, and Signs.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2022 Bindrune Recordings

Track listing
1. Kanawha Black 6:23
2. The Murky Deep 4:03
3. I Can Die But Once 6:16
4. A Cure for the Winter Plagues 3:32
5. Visions, Dreams, and Signs 7:27
6. Generations of War 6:16
7. Across the Divide 7:50

Band members
Nechochwen – vocals, guitars, e-bow, keyboards, hand drum, floor tom, rattle, cedar flute, lalawas
Pohonasin – bass, drums, backing vocals

Album Review – Bhleg / Fäghring (2022)

This unstoppable Swedish duo returns with their most ambitious recording to date, the fourth and closing part of the album tetralogy “Ár”.

After the blackest night comes the most radiant dawn; the spark of life illuminates all that which was swallowed by shadows. Fäghring, or “florescence” in English, bears the gift of rebirth both in nature and for Västra Götaland, Sweden-based Black/Folk Metal entity Bhleg. The fourth and closing part of the album tetralogy “Ár”, with the other three parts being Solarmegin (2018), Äril (2019) and Ödhin (2021), is the most ambitious Bhleg recording to date, with its metal parts being saturated with both primal ferocity and majestic atmosphere, while the ambient interludes from their early works are still present, but now conveyed mostly through analogue recordings. Tracked and mixed using the band’s own recording setup at Studio Asu, mastered by Tore Stjerna at Necromorbus Studios, displaying custom photography as well as illustrations and calligraphy by T. Väänänen, and featuring guest vocalists specialized in different aspects of the Scandinavian folk tradition the likes of Andreas Pettersson of Saiva, Êlea of Noêta, and Swedish author Lars Magnar Enoksen, Fäghring is undoubtedly the strongest album to date by vocalist L. and multi-instrumentalist S., this time supported by drummer H.

Vårdträdet (or “the warden tree” from Swedish) works as an extended intro that will transport your soul to the ethereal realm ruled by Bhleg, with S. being on fire with both his riffs and his tribalistic sounds, flowing into the 10-minute aria Grönskande gryning (“verdant dawn”), where L. begins screaming like a demonic entity in a brilliant fusion of Black and Folk Metal. Furthermore, S. once again is bestial with his riffage while H. hammers his drums with tons of passion and feeling, alternating between sheer heaviness and mesmerizing passages, not to mention how awesome all additional instruments by S. sound and feel. The piercing Black Metal riffs by S. set the tone in Alyr i blom (“Alyr in bloom”), with H.’s beats dictating the song’s frantic pace amidst over 12 minutes of insanity, darkness and a deep connection with nature, with S. darkening the skies with his sick guitar lines and low-tuned bass jabs, therefore resulting in one of the band’s most complex and detailed compositions to date.

Birds chirping ignite the and melancholic Befruktad jord (“nourished soil”), evolving into a massive wall of ethereal and harsh sounds and tones for our total delight while also bringing forward wicked vocalizations, flammable riffs and H.’s pounding drums. Then the sounds of nature will put you in a trance in Solvigd “(solar wedlock”), a beautiful, enfolding tune showcasing primeval elements intertwined with whimsical female vocals, before Bhleg comes crushing with Frö (“seed”), a 12-minute onrush of Black and Folk Metal that will decimate your senses with L. delivering his most infernal and anguished vocals of the entire album supported by the always venomous beats by H., blackening the ambience more and more as the music progresses to the razor-edged riffs by S. and ending with eerie, grim vociferations that build an instant connection with the atmospheric outro Fagna sumrí, (“celebration of summer”), which goes on for too long despite being very delicate and smooth. It’s still a very decent conclusion to the album, of course.

“From death springs life – stronger, wiser, and alive. Fäghring, our homage to the glorious spring, signifies the part of the natural process where life is reborn. The album is dedicated to life and its triumphs over death; it is the fourth and last album in this cycle,” commented the duo. And if you want to join Bhleg in their quest for Black and Folk Metal you can start following the band on Facebook and on Instagram, stream all of their creations on Spotify, and soon purchase your copy of the stunning Fäghring from their BandCamp page, from Nordvis Produktion, or click HERE for all places where you can buy or stream the album. This cycle might be closed, as mentioned by L. and S., but the duo is far from calling it quits; quite the contrary, Bhleg will be reborn again and again, for the delight of all fans of first-class extreme music.

Best moments of the album: Grönskande gryning, Alyr i blom and Frö.

Worst moments of the album: Fagna sumrí.

Released in 2022 Nordvis Produktion

Track listing
1. Vårdträdet 2:40
2. Grönskande gryning 10:41
3. Alyr i blom 12:06
4. Befruktad jord 8:52
5. Solvigd 3:30
6. Frö 12:22
7. Fagna sumrí 4:11

Band members
L. – lead vocals
S. – guitar, bass, lyre, hurdy-gurdy, mouth harp, keyboards, bullroarer, birch trumpet, frame drums, birch sticks, stones, vocals

Guest musicians
H. – drums (session)
Andreas Pettersson – vocals
Êlea – vocals
Lars Magnar Enoksen – vocals

Album Review – Hand of Kalliach / Samhainn (2021)

Behold the debut full-length album by this rising metal duo, offering us all dual concepts of benevolence and malevolence, all against the backdrop of the history, mythology and land and seascapes of the Scottish islands.

Melding a passion for metal music with traditional Scottish folk elements, Edinburgh, Scotland-based Atmospheric Celtic Metal duo Hand of Kalliach (a name that comes from the legend of the “Cailleach”, a Scottish witch god of winter) has just unleashed their globally awaited debut effort entitled Samhainn, focusing on dual concepts of benevolence and malevolence, all against the backdrop of the history, mythology and land and seascapes of the Scottish islands. Mixed and mastered by Wynter Prior at Sphynx Studios, and displaying a stylish artwork by Brazilian artist VHummel (aka Vinicius Hummel), the album is a lecture in Scottish metal by the couple formed of Sophie Fraser on vocals and bass, and John Fraser on vocals, guitars and drums, drawing  inspiration from the rhythms, time signatures and patterns used in folk music and adapting them for distorted guitars. “We’re both extremely excited to be releasing our debut full-length, Samhainn. Named after the ancient Celtic festival of winter (pronounced “Sah-win”), this album represents a huge gear change in our writing and production from our initial work, bringing a darker and more aggressive energy to our hybrid sound of Melodeath and Folk Metal,” commented John about the duo’s newborn spawn.

The opening tune Beneath Starlit Waters is atmospheric and enfolding form the very first second, with Sophie mesmerizing us all with her gentle vocals before John comes crushing with his deep roars and blast beats in a more epic version of Melodic Death Metal. Then in Solas Neònach we face sheer poetry flowing from the song’s lyrics (“Wake / From dreaming / The warmth departs these shores / From eightfold crones the chants are heard / The sand inverted once again”) while John slashes his stringed axe in great fashion, supported of course by Sophie’s ethereal vocalizations, followed by Each Uisge (roughly pronounced “eyach oosh-keh”), which translates to “water horse”, a demon from Scottish mythology that disguises itself as a horse before binding its flesh to a rider and galloping into the sea to drown and devour them. Musically speaking, it’s another stunning musical voyage showcasing a breathtaking vocal duet, a galloping bass and blast beats for our total delight. John continues to growl like a demonic entity in Roil, a lot more inclined to contemporary Melodic Death Metal, with Sophie embellishing the airwaves with her clean vocals; whereas adding elements from Viking Metal to their core essence it’s time for another epic onrush of sounds by the duo titled Cinders, where Sophie and John are thunderous with their respective bass and drums.

Arising from the depths of the underworld amidst a serene and melancholic ambience, The Lull Of Loch Uigeadail presents a more tribal side of the duo filling our ears with Celtic sounds and tones, bringing peace to our hearts before all hell breaks loose in Ascendant, leaning towards classic Melodic Death Metal while Sophie and John make the perfect metal couple throughout the entire song, resulting in a hybrid of pure rage and madness with smooth and hypnotizing sounds. Òran Na Tein’-éigin brings forward a stunning vocal attack by both Sophie and John, with its visceral drums creating a beautiful paradox with all background elements, and the duo keeps hammering our souls with their Atmospheric Celtic Metal in Trial Of The Beithir-Nimh, a solid, headbanging composition presenting metallic bass lines by Sophie intertwined with the flammable riffage by John. Finally,  get ready for one last round of poetic words (“Lost / On waves / Of an endless sea / Under starlit skies / It returns to me”) in Return to Stone while the music sounds a lot heavier and more doomed than all previous songs, feeling like the band’s farewell and, as a consequence, putting a pensive conclusion to the album.

This beautiful and absolutely atmospheric album made in Scotland can be better appreciated in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if you want to show your utmost support and admiration for such talented duo you can purchase a copy of Samhainn from the band’s own BandCamp page (or simply click HERE for all locations where you can buy or stream the album), and don’t forget to follow Hand of Kalliach on Facebook and on Instagram to know more about this up-and-coming Scottish entity. As the festival of Samhainn marks the end of the harvest season and beginning of winter or “darker-half” of the year, there’s nothing better than listening to an album that perfectly depicts that change from light to darkness and all of its nuances, and we must thank Sophie and john for being able to generate that album with such high level of passion and musicianship.

Best moments of the album: Solas Neònach, Each Uisge and Ascendant.

Worst moments of the album: Cinders.

Released in 2021 Trepanation Recordings

Track listing
1. Beneath Starlit Waters 5:56
2. Solas Neònach 4:53
3. Each Uisge 5:01
4. Roil 3:28
5. Cinders 3:02
6. The Lull Of Loch Uigeadail 3:49
7. Ascendant 3:13
8. Òran Na Tein’-éigin 4:10
9. Trial Of The Beithir-Nimh 3:49
10. Return to Stone 5:21

Band members
Sophie Fraser – vocals, bass
John Fraser – vocals, guitars, drums

Album Review – Primeval Well / Talkin’ in Tongues with Mountain Spirits (2021)

This uncanny metal entity is back with their sophomore album, overflowing with the fullness of the rivers, valleys and folk legends and mythology of the mountains of east Tennessee.

Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, in the United States, commonly known as “Music City” for its vibrant country music scene, the uncanny Experimental Folk/Black Metal entity known as Primeval Well is ready to unleash upon humanity their sophomore effort, entitled Talkin’ in Tongues with Mountain Spirits, the follow-up to their 2019 self-titled album. Absolutely overflowing with the fullness of the rivers, valleys and folk legends and mythology of the mountains of east Tennessee, Talkin’ in Tongues with Mountain Spirits beautifully represents what the band itself likes to call “Experimental Southern Gothic Black Metal”, offering our ears haunting and unsettling sounds and atmospheres carefully brought forth by Ryan Clackner on vocals and guitars, Luke Lindell on bass, Edward Longo on keyboards and Zac Ormerod on drums, showing a healthy evolution from their debut album and, more important than that, showcasing a stunning fusion of experimental sounds with the aggressiveness of traditional extreme music.

Eerie and cryptic from the very first second, the extended intro Psilocybin Psychosis by the Mountain Top Cross brings forward background vocalizations and wicked noises that set the stage for the band to kill in Raising Up Antlers to Our Mountain Gods, where an experimental start explodes into visceral Black Metal to the sick growls by Ryan and the infernal blast beats by Zac, showcasing some interesting breaks and variations and, of course, endless darkness and acidity. After such powerful start, Ryan’s classy guitars are quickly accompanied by the groovy bass by Luke and the galloping drums by Zac in She Flies Undead, less violent at first while presenting a wicked fusion of Southern Rock and Black Metal, or in other words, the epitome of musical experimentation, whereas again exploring new sounds armed with their sonic weapons the quartet adds hints of Doom Metal to their core sonority in Ghost Fires Burn Light in Our Eyes, with Ryan kicking ass with both his demented roars and crisp riffage while Edward adds a touch of finesse to the music with his keys.

The title-track Talkin’ in Tongues with Mountain Spirits will penetrate deep inside your psyche and drag you to the wicked world ruled by Primeval Well, displaying hellish gnarls, razor-edged Black Metal riffs and classic beats by the quartet, while once again presenting elements from their local culture, it’s time for a stylish hybrid of Gothic, Folk and Black Metal titled Tales Carved in Stone on a Forbidden Road, with the guitars by Ryan and the rumbling bass by Luke stealing the spotlight. Then in Where All Things are Forgotten we face a somber, melancholic start to the deep vocals by Ryan, and that atmospheric vibe goes on for over four minutes when everything suddenly bursts into chaos, spearheaded by the massive beast by Zac and finally flowing into the phantasmagorical outro Sickening Laughter with the Grinning Trees, where the acoustic guitars by Ryan walk hand in hand with the song’s haunting background sounds.

The chaotic but at the same time harmonious sounds of the rivers and valleys of Tennessee are waiting for you in Talkin’ in Tongues with Mountain Spirits, an album that might not be an easy listen at first for newcomers to the world of Experimental Black Metal, but that will surely captivate your senses for all eternity once you complete its full musical voyage. Hence, don’t forget to give the guys from Primeval Well a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, and to purchase a copy of such dense and distinguished album from their own BandCamp page. In a nutshell, as aforementioned, Ryan, Luke, Edward and Zac did an amazing job in Talkin’ in Tongues with Mountain Spirits, delivering a majestic hybrid of several metal and non-metal styles that will undoubtedly place the album among the must-have releases of 2021 when the music in question is at the same time experimental and extreme.

Best moments of the album: Raising Up Antlers to Our Mountain Gods, Ghost Fires Burn Light in Our Eyes and Tales Carved in Stone on a Forbidden Road.

Worst moments of the album: Where All Things are Forgotten.

Released in 2021 Moonlight Cypress Archetypes

Track listing
1. Psilocybin Psychosis by the Mountain Top Cross 3:20
2. Raising Up Antlers to Our Mountain Gods 10:45
3. She Flies Undead 9:44
4. Ghost Fires Burn Light in Our Eyes 9:13
5. Talkin’ in Tongues with Mountain Spirits 8:38
6. Tales Carved in Stone on a Forbidden Road 9:21
7. Where All Things are Forgotten 8:01
8. Sickening Laughter with the Grinning Trees 2:22

Band members
Ryan Clackner – vocals, guitars
Luke Lindell – bass, vocals
Edward Longo – keyboards, vocals
Zac Ormerod – drums

Metal Chick of the Month – Lilita Arndt

lilita01

Eternal darkness is covering my eyes and penetrating me…

Dark skies are over us all once again here on The Headbanging Moose thanks to the raw and visceral Black Metal crafted by a multi-talented woman who will undoubtedly blacken our hearts even more. Hailing from Rivne, a historic city in western Ukraine located over 300 kilometers to the west of the country’s capital Kiev, she’s not only an amazing Extreme Metal vocalist, but she also plays all instruments including lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars, bass and drums for her stunning one-woman Occult and Depressive Black Metal project entitled Ieschure. Her poetic name, Lilita Arndt, adds an extra touch of beauty to her unique creations, and you’ll be more than pleased with her music, her view of Black Metal and how she incorporates all her influences into each one of her songs.

Lilita’s interest in writing and playing music began at a very early stage of her childhood, when she started to write lyrics and later tried to create simple melodies for them on her acoustic guitar, which by the way was her very first instrument, then learning how to play keyboards (followed by all other instruments she currently knows), all self-taught and never having any sort of formal or structured music lessons with anyone. After taking part in different projects as a singer, including an old acoustic project called Embrace of Hedera from 2007 until 2015 which played melancholic, dark and romantic music with acoustic guitars and clean female vocals (and with whom she recorded the album The Castle On The Rolling Hills in 2015), Lilita wanted to explore new territories by creating her own music with her own melodies, lyrics, singing and atmosphere, being the mastermind of her own project and experimenting with melodies and vocals, the main reason why she decided to found her own solo project Ieschure back in 2015.

A word chosen by Lilita after the whole album The Shadow was finished in 2017, Ieschure has the project’s name related to occult things and the meaning of this word is really important for her, although our multi-talented musician prefers it to be known only by herself. Dealing with classic Black Metal lyrical themes such as occultism, witchcraft and death, and using a serpent as her symbol (more specifically as a primitive symbol of power and wisdom but at the same time representing death and damnation), this one-woman Black Metal force has already released an array of bold, captivating albums since the project’s inception in 2015, those being the aforementioned full-length opus The Shadow, in 2017, the EP’s Cold Stars of Eternity and Phantoms of God, in 2020, and more recently the split album Witch’s Consecration, now in 2021, with Brazilian Black Metal horde Promethean Gate. If you want to have a very good taste of how breathtaking the music by Ieschure is, you can enjoy some awesome songs online such as Eternal Agony, Mystic Schizophrenia and Phantoms Of God, or simply go to BandCamp, to Big Cartel and to Spotify (or click HERE) to stream and purchase all of her wicked creations.

Not only the woman responsible for all vocals and instruments in all of Ieschure releases, Lilita also handles all recording, mixing, mastering, lyrics and layout of the albums, which is absolutely in line with her initial dream of having a project of her own. In addition, Lilita has also collaborated in several albums from other bands, with the most memorable for her to date being singing with the bands Detention and Restless. For instance, she recorded vocals for the songs Nidhogg (from the album Lost Souls in a Godless World) and Wolf’s Head (from the album The Battle of Tara) by American Doom/Stoner/Southern Metal band Black Mountain Thunder, both in 2015; vocals for the song The Face of God, from the 2015 self-titled album by American Stoner/Doom Metal band Clawhammer; vocals on the 2014 album Marginal, by Kazakh Depressive Metal band Detention; vocals on the song Rurel, from the 2018 self-titled EP by Italian Black/Folk Metal band Dovrefjell; backing vocals on the songs Spiritueller Selbstmord, from the 2014 album Verwüstung, and Wenn Die Sterne Nicht Mehr Scheinen, from the 2014 EP Horizont, by Ukrainian Black Metal/Ambient band Moloch; vocals on the 2017 album Funeral Impressions, by Italian Funeral Doom Metal band Restless; and vocals on the song Bride of Winter, from the 2016 album Forgotten Tales, by Italian Black Metal band Waldweg; not to mention the cover art for the 2019 EP The Wanderer, by Tuskish Atmospheric Black Metal band Akrunant.

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Regarding her first experiences with Heavy and Black Metal, Lilita mentioned in one of her interviews that she began listening to popular metal bands when she was a teenager, becoming more and more interested in the underground and, consequently, getting attracted to the world of Black Metal. In her opinion, Black Metal is not just a music style, but a dark side of art, an irrational fusion of music, theatre and philosophy, full of paradoxes and concentrating the strongest emotions, hatred and some perverted love to life, which is the main reason why she considers it perfect. She complemented by saying that she has felt the presence of hidden forces in the world since she was a little child, gradually getting more interested in those and in occultism, also saying that realizing that she will die some day was what truly attracted her to that. Apart from drawing inspiration from the works of renowned occultists the likes of Aleister Crowley, Eliphas Levi, Stanislas de Guaita and George Gurdjieff, she also enjoys reading and studying about her work as a designer, all forms of art, mythology, psychology, history, travelling and everything that can give her new knowledge about the world. And in terms of what inspires the music by Ieschure the most, she mentioned Black Metal behemoths such as early Urfaust, Behexen, Rotting Christ, My Dying Bride, Opeth and, above all, Burzum, as his music embodies the ideas of misanthropy and loneliness in the best way imaginable according to our sinister diva.

When asked about her vocal style and technique, Lilita said that her screaming vocals were influenced by classic Black Metal bands, whereas for clean vocals she gets her inspiration from non-Black Metal music, as for example Julie Christmas, her favorite female singer of bands like Battle Of Mice and Made Out of Babies, and Free Dominguez, of Kidneythieves. In addition, regarding her songwriting process, Lilita said the first thing she does is many improvisations on the guitar at her home studio, recording various ideas, listening to them again at a later stage, and if she finds any of those ideas interesting enough she rerecords them to include all other instruments. Also, she complemented by saying most of her time in that process is taken by the lyrics writing process, as she can rewrite those many times and do various vocal improvisations to find the best version, finally rerecording everything.

As a true admirer of the underground, in special the first wave of Black Metal bands, their sound and atmosphere, as well as old Doom Metal, Lilita also said that although she doesn’t listen to a lot of bands from the Black Metal scene in her homeland Ukraine she knows there are several bands and projects in the country who create true underground music, always prioritizing the music instead of fame or money. However, she said she cannot compare herself to any of those bands, as she tries to go her own way with her own opinion about music. In addition, she also mentioned in one of her interviews that she doesn’t usually attend concerts, as for her personally the best way to listen to music is to listen to it in her headphones.

Lastly, when questioned if one day Ieschure will become a full-bodied group with other members joining her, Lilita said that, although she’s always open to change, she doesn’t think that’s a possibility for now. Furthermore, she mentioned that if one day she finds that a good alternative for embodying her ideas she will definitely try working with other musicians, as long as of course they’re sincerely interested in music and follow similar or the same ideas as hers. In the end, it doesn’t matter if she continues to create music as a lone she-wolf or if she finds the perfect lineup for Ieschure, our beloved metal witch will keep experimenting with melodies and vocal styles while always keeping an evil Black Metal atmosphere in the background, playing raw and devilish sounds for our total delectation in the name of darkness, death and the occult.

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“For me black metal is really a dark side of Art. It’s not just a music style. Mixture of music, theatre and philosophy, more irrational than other music styles, full of paradoxes, concentrating the strongest emotions, hatred and some perverted love to life. That is why it is perfect.” – Lilita Arndt

Album Review – Varang Nord / Pārķiuņa Uomurs (2021)

One of the best metal hordes hailing from Latvia is ready to bring down the hammer with their fourth studio album, proudly dedicated to their vast and beautiful homeland.

3.5rating

varang-nord-pārķiuņa-uomurs-2021Founded in 2014 in the cold woods of Latvia, more specifically in the city of Daugavpils, located in south-eastern Latvia, the unstoppable horde known as Varang Nord combines harsh Death Metal riffs with epic accordion chants, creating a unique blend of northern Folk, Pagan and Viking Metal while praising a mighty battle, a bloody sacrifice to the Old Gods and a joyful northern feast with endless mugs of ale. Now in 2021, the band comprised of Maksims “Wolf” Popovs on vocals and guitar, Jelena Kalniša on vocals and accordion, Javgenijs Selivanovs also on the guitar, Danila Lopuha on bass and vocals, Vjačeslavs Janens on percussion and vocals, and Aigars Zeiza on drums returns to the battlefield with Pārķiuņa Uomurs, or “thunder’s hammer” in English, their fourth studio album, proudly dedicated to their homeland, the power and beauty of its nature and the depth of its cultural roots. Produced by the band and recorded at their personal studio, and mixed and mastered by Gints Lundbergs at Sound Division Studios, Pārķiuņa Uomurs is also the band’s first-ever album where all lyrics are written in the Latgalian language (an eastern dialect of Latvian), giving it an even more personal and organic feel.

A war is about to begin in the epic intro Pi Tuoļim Krostym, getting us ready for our bloodthirsty destiny to the sound of Stuojīs!, where the accordion by Jelena and the blast beats by Aigars make a superb paradox, offering Maksims everything he needs to roar like a true barbarian while Jelena brings a touch of finesse and melancholy with her clean vocals. Cīņis Gors, a battle anthem capturing the spirit of hard, long sea travels and conquests Northmen have been involved in, is a fun and inspiring Pagan and Viking Metal tune where the background elements by guest Yuri Borin walk hand in hand with the slashing guitars by Maksims and Javgenijs; and let’s keep banging our heads to Pārķiuņa Uomurs, another solid composition by this Latvian horde with Danila, Vjačeslavs and Aigars making the earth tremble with their imposing kitchen, whereas their warlike metal feast goes on in Dzeļža Ryuda, again presenting a headbanging, prancing rhythm led by Jelena’s wicked accordion, not to mention the awesome job done by Maksims with his evil growls.

It’s time then for a journey through the melancholic realms of old school Pagan Metal spearheaded by Jelena’s vocals in Svietņeica, accompanied by the rhythmic beats by Aigars and all somber background sounds, while Maksims roars deeply and more enraged in Uperiešona, a classic Viking Metal extravaganza the likes of Amon Amarth that will please all fans of the genre, with Danila crushing his bass guitar while Maksims and Javgenijs bring fire to the music with their riffage. And let’s prance around the fire pit together with those Latvian marauders in Syt Pa Seyi, a Pagan Metal feast perfect for their live performances with Aigars once again kicking some ass behind his drum set. Then mesmerizing accordion sounds, infernal and thunderous bass jabs and blast beats, and troll-like vocals set the tone in Troļļs, the epitome of Latvian Folk Metal where all band members are on absolute fire from start to finish, followed by Karaveiri, another good composition by those talented metallers (albeit not as dynamic nor creative as its predecessors) that flows into the atmospheric, acoustic outro Ceļš Da Sātai, bringing peace to our hearts after such intense battle.

varang-nord-2021Having said all that, I guess I don’t need to tell you that the time has come to grab your sword and shield, and join Varang Nord in the battlefield to the sound of their new opus, right? In order to do that, you can stream the album in full on Spotify, or prove you’re a true warrior from the North and purchase a copy of the album from Dead Pulse or from Apple Music. Also, don’t forget to follow the band on Facebook, on VKontakte and on Instagram for all things Varang Nord, and to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their epic music and videos. Varang Nord are not just another band recommended for fans of bands the likes of Ensiferum, Amon Amarth and Turisas, but a fantastic Latvian institution that truly deserves our appreciation for their contribution to heavy music. And let those talented Latvians bring down the hammer on us all!

Best moments of the album: Cīņis Gors, Uperiešona, Syt Pa Seyi and Trolls.

Worst moments of the album: Karaveiri.

Released in 2021 Sliptrick Records

Track listing  
1. Pi Tuoļim Krostym 2:07
2. Stuojīs! 4:28
3. Cīņis Gors 4:18
4. Pārķiuņa Uomurs 4:44
5. Dzeļža Ryuda 5:18
6. Svietņeica 5:39
7. Uperiešona 5:00
8. Syt Pa Seyi 4:06
9. Troļļs 4:18
10. Karaveiri 5:48
11. Ceļš Da Sātai 2:16

Band members
Maksims “Wolf” Popovs – vocals, guitar
Jelena Kalniša – vocals, accordion
Javgenijs Selivanovs – guitar
Danila Lopuha – bass, vocals
Vjačeslavs Janens – percussion, vocals
Aigars Zeiza – drums

Guest musicians
Alyona Fomina – medieval bagpipes, talharpa, other traditional instruments
Yuri Borin – orchestral arrangements

Album Review – Ildaruni / Beyond Unseen Gateways (2021)

A spiritual journey to the mysteries untold in the form relentless, epic Black Metal infused with ancient folk melodies, masterfully brought forth by this emerging Armenian raging force.

3.5rating

ildaruni-beyond-unseen-gateways-2021Having emerged as a raging force from the depths of the Armenian underground metal scene in 2016, Yerevan-based Pagan Black Metal horde Ildaruni (which by the way is the ancient pagan name of the second largest river that flows through Armenia, currently known as Hrazdan River) represents a blend of relentless, epic Black Metal and ancient folk melodies, forgotten from times immemorial, exploring the height of the Urartian domain through the cognitive machinations of a bygone age and the esoteric apprehension of ancient pagan occultism. Recorded by Armen Shaverdian and Mark Erskine at Armen Shaverdian’s Guitar Clinic Studio, mixed and mastered by George Emmanuel (Lucifer’s Child, Rotting Chris) at Pentagram Studio, and displaying an ominous artwork by Mark Erskine (Erskine Designs), the band’s debut opus Beyond Unseen Gateways is a hymn to the blazing light that sank into shadowy shrines, to the wild darkness that covered the debris of Ardini, and to the bygone flame that enlightened the sanctum of Haldi, introducing an authentic sound and a spiritual journey to the mysteries untold masterfully brought forth by frontman Artak Karapetyan, guitarists Robert Meliksetyan and Mark Erskine, bassist Garbis Vizoian and drummer Arthur Poghosyan.

Atmospheric and epic from the very first second, the intro Haldinini Baushini, Imsheini Tariani will transport you to the fantastic realm ruled by Ildaruni, with the tin whistle by guest Arthur Atayan adding an extra touch of mystery to their music, before Robert and Mark begin slashing their guitars in the Epic Metal tune Treading the Path of Cryptic Wisdom, presenting beautiful hints of Folk and Pagan Metal while Artak roars and growls lie a true demonic entity; followed by the also imposing Perpetual Vigil, showcasing an obscure, sinister intro led by the tribal beats by Arthur and morphing into a headbanging beast crafted by this talented Armenian horde, living up to the legacy of Melodic and Pagan Black Metal. And get ready for over eight minutes of infernal blast beats, incendiary riffs and venomous growls in the Black Metal aria Boundless Numen: Gardens of Ardini, a lecture in extreme music spearheaded by the sulfurous vociferations by Artak that will haunt your soul for all eternity.

Once again blending the epicness of Pagan Metal with the heaviness and fury of Black Metal, the quintet fires the demolishing musical journey Towards Subterranean Realms, not to mention how thunderous the bass jabs by Garbis sound in paradox with all background orchestrations; and there’s no time to breathe as those Armenian metallers keep embellishing the airwaves with their bold and dense sound in Exalted Birth, another explosion of modern-day Melodic Black Metal with the band’s guitar duo stealing the spotlight with their wicked riffage supported by Arthur Atayan’s hypnotizing bagpipes. They still have fuel for another ass-kicking Black Metal onrush entitled Arakha, with Arthur setting the tone with his tribal, massive beats, accompanied by the strident sound of the guitars and the always vile roaring by Artak, and right after an imposing and stunning start Ildaruni come ripping in Whence Ravenstone Beckons, providing us fans eight minutes of impressive Black Metal where Arthur sounds more devilish than ever on drums while also featuring guest vocals by  Anna Hovhannesyan, with the music flowing darkly until the end.

ildaruni-2021I must say that listening to Beyond Unseen Gateways is indeed a unique sonic experience, or a “spiritual journey” as the band itself mentioned, and the hybrid of Black Metal with folk elements and paganism matched flawlessly with the stories told throughout the album’s impressive 52 minutes of first-class metal music. Having said that, let’s all show our total support and respect to the guys from Ildaruni by following them on Facebook and on Instagram for news, tour dates and other nice-to-know info about the band, by streaming their awesome creations on Spotify, and obviously by purchasing a copy of Beyond Unseen Gateways from their own BandCamp page (or simply click HERE for all locations where you can buy or stream the album in full). The ominous flame now burns stronger as Iladruni have just unleashed their long-waited cryptic incantations in the form of their incendiary debut effort, appealing to fans of renowned acts the like of Kawir, Rotting Christ and Windir. And may the gates of genesis reopen and herald forth an epoch of exaltation anew.

Best moments of the album: Treading the Path of Cryptic Wisdom, Boundless Numen: Gardens of Ardini and Exalted Birth.

Worst moments of the album: Perpetual Vigil.

Released in 2021 Black Lion Records

Track listing
1. Haldinini Baushini, Imsheini Tariani 3:38
2. Treading the Path of Cryptic Wisdom 6:23
3. Perpetual Vigil 6:02
4. Boundless Numen: Gardens of Ardini 8:10
5. Towards Subterranean Realms 7:50
6. Exalted Birth 6:05
7. Arakha 6:34
8. Whence Ravenstone Beckons 7:58

Band members
Artak Karapetyan – vocals
Robert Meliksetyan – guitars, keyboards
Mark Erskine – guitars, keyboards
Garbis Vizoian – bass
Arthur Poghosyan – drums

Guest musicians
Arthur Atayan – tin whistle on “Haldinini Baushini, Imsheini Tariani,” “Treading the Path of Cryptic Wisdom,” and “Towards Subterranean Realms”, bagpipes on “Exalted Birth”
Anna Hovhannesyan – vocals on “Whence Ravenstone Beckons”

Album Review – Korpiklaani / Jylhä (2021)

The Finnish clan of the wilderness is ready to put us all to dance around the firepit once again with their majestic fusion of folk elements and heavy sounds.

Forged in the already  distant year of 1993 (first as Shamaani Duo and later as Shaman), Finnish Folk Metal institution Korpiklaani is more than ready to put us all to dance around the firepit once again with their fusion of folk elements and heavy sounds found in their eleventh studio album, titled Jylhä, and let me tell you there couldn’t be a better name to describe such awesome record. Jylhä is the Finnish word for “majestic”, which is exactly what frontman Jonne Järvelä, guitarist Kalle “Cane” Savijärvi, bassist Jarkko Aaltonen, violinist Tuomas Rounakari, accordionist Sami Perttula and drummer Samuli Mikkonen have to offer throughout the album’s 13 original compositions in the impressive span of one hour of music, all embraced by the beautiful artwork by Finnish designer Jan “Örkki” Yrlund (Darkgrove Design), resulting in one of the most sonically diverse records they’ve ever written and, therefore, proving why they’re considered one of the most important names of the genre alongside giants the likes of Finntroll, Eluveitie, Ensiferum and Turisas.

The tribal beats by Samuli kick off the dark and folk Verikoira (“bloodhound”), a headbanging, beer-drinking tune by those old school Finnish guys with the violin by Tuomas and the accordion by Sami taking us back on a journey to a distant time, whereas it’s time to slam into the circle pit and drink some vodka in the name of Folk Metal in Niemi (“the cape” or “peninsula”), a song about the triple murder in Lake Bodom in 1960 that shocked the whole Finland, with Jonne leading his horde with his inebriate vocals while the slashing guitar by Cane adds some extra spice to the overall result. Then we have Leväluhta (“algae”), with its name taken from a spring in Isokyrö where remains of approximately a hundred Iron Age bodies have been found buried, highly inspired by Finnish traditional folk music where Samuli’s beats dictate the rhythm accompanied by the wicked accordion by Sami; followed by Mylly (“the mill” or “grinder”), the story of a man’s journey to the mill who on his way sees a figure sitting on a fence, a “devil” with a hoof as a  foot. Musically speaking, it’s another entertaining round of their fusion of Folk and Heavy Metal where Jonne nicely declaims the song’s dark words.

A melancholic and pensive intro led by Jonne’s introspective vocals evolves into a dark and metallic Folk Metal extravaganza titled Tuuleton (“windless”), showcasing the razor-edge riffs by Cane in constant paradox with the crying violin by Tuomas, while in Sanaton Maa (“wordless land”), inspired by a legend known at least in Kaukola and Valkeala in Finland, a beautiful melody flawlessly flows from their unstoppable riffs, violin and accordion, resulting in a Folk Metal headbanger that will please all fans of the band. The violin by Tuomas keeps crying in Kiuru (“lark”), not as inspiring nor as vibrant as its predecessors despite the decent job done by Jonne with his trademark raspy vocals and the always stylish riffs by Cane; and Cane continues to extract electrifying sounds from his stringed axe in Miero, showcasing elements from Doom and Melancholic Metal carefully inserted in their traditional Folk Metal, therefore exhaling sadness while Jonne is effectively supported by his bandmates’ backing vocals.

Get ready to prance around the fire pit together with the boys from Korpiklaani in the fun Pohja (“base” or “ground”), where Samuli is on fire with his crushing drums while Cane and Jarkko make our heads tremble with their riffs and bass jabs, not to mention Tuomas’ incendiary violin solo. Then more traditional, old school Finnish music in the form of Folk Metal is offered to us all in Huolettomat (“careless”), keeping the atmosphere light and exciting while Jonne’s vocals sound like a drunk minstrel from the past; and never tired of drinking and partying around the fire, the band brings to our ears the straightforward Anolan Aukeat, with Samuli and Jarkko providing Tuomas and Sami a strong base for their refined violin and accordion sounds. Their second to last display of insanity and booze comes as the semi-acoustic extravaganza titled Pidot (“feast”), which should work really well if played live mainly because of how much fans of the band love this type of dancing tune, and last but not least Korpiklaani fire the grim and heavy Juuret (“roots”), presenting their usual dexterity and musical roots infused with pensive and sluggish sounds, changing its shape and form as the music progresses and with Cane, Tuomas and Sami displaying all their passion for folk music.

In a nutshell, we can rest assured that as long as the Finnish clan of the wilderness is among us, our good old Folk Metal will remain alive and kicking, with albums like Jylhä beautifully showing how majestic and fun Scandinavian Metal (as well as all other styles from the north) can be. Hence, don’t forget to give the guys from Korpiklaani a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel and to search for them on Spotify for more of their first-class music, and of course to buy your copy of Jylhä by clicking HERE​ or HERE. Every single time Korpiklaani release a new album, you know it’s time to stretch our legs and arms, grab some cold beer, start the fire and get ready to spend hours and hours dancing around the firepit, celebrating the Scandinavian culture and, above all, our deep passion for heavy music together with those unstoppable Finnish metallers.

Best moments of the album: Niemi, Pohja and Huolettomat.

Worst moments of the album: Kiuru.

Released in 2021 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Verikoira 6:19
2. Niemi 3:42
3. Leväluhta 3:50
4. Mylly 4:43
5. Tuuleton 5:50
6. Sanaton Maa 4:29
7. Kiuru 5:26
8. Miero 4:21
9. Pohja 4:28
10. Huolettomat 4:16
11. Anolan Aukeat 3:05
12. Pidot 3:47
13. Juuret 6:19

Band members
Jonne Järvelä – vocals, mandolin, hurdy gurdy, violafon, shaman drum, djembe, flute
Kalle “Cane” Savijärvi – guitars, backing vocals
Jarkko Aaltonen – bass
Tuomas Rounakari – violin
Sami Perttula – accordion
Samuli Mikkonen – drums

Album Review – Bhleg / Ödhin (2021)

One of Sweden’s most talented extreme music duos returns with six epic tracks of pure channeling of forceful darkness in their third full-length opus.

Inevitable, as the spreading twilight and turmoil when the blackness of winter swallows the sun, the massive and multi-layered Ödhin, the third full-length album by Swedish Black/Folk Metal act Bhleg, sweeps the world with icy winds and drowns it in the beautiful colors of the night. Enswathed in ancient Scandinavian wisdom, this blackened metal offering muses on the endtimes, as the Norns’ twines of fate have never resounded clearer or with more vigor. Hailing from Västra Götaland, a county or län on the western coast of Sweden, Bhelg are a musical and spiritual journey spearheaded by vocalist L. and multi-instrumentalist S. that began in 2007, but which would not take shape until 2013, having released their debut opus Draumr Ást in 2014 and their sophomore effort Solarmegin in 2018. However, it’s now in 2021 that the duo, supported by session drummer A., sounds sharper than ever, offering in Ödhin six epic tracks of pure channeling of forceful darkness, showcasing vicious outbursts of savagery, reflective moments of melancholy and a primal strength with roots in all three worlds, mesmerizing us with a message as ancient as time that, in the end, our fate shall come for us all.

Obscure vociferations emerge from the pits of the underworld in the raw and epic Vyss, where A. delivers top-notch, old school Black Metal blast beats while S. hammers his stringed weapons mercilessly, all of course boosted by the demonic gnarls by L.; and continuing their darkened path of Folk and Black Metal we’re treated to Alyr III, another bold and dense extravaganza thoroughly crafted by L. and S., with endless epicness and melancholy flowing from all background elements (not to mention its atmospheric, acoustic passages). Then it’s time to wake up and join Bhleg in the eerie, cryptic interlude Gyllene Gal (or “golden gal” in English), tailored for embracing your soul and captivate your senses, albeit a bit too long, before the band comes crushing once again in Slukad Sol (“swallowed sun”), with A. pounding his drums in great fashion while S. keeps extracting razor-edge, piercing riffs form his guitar, resulting in a vicious onrush of Blackened Folk Metal that will please all fans of the genre. Moreover, L. is once again bestial with his enraged roars, making this marvelous musical voyage offered to us by such talented Swedish horde even more gripping. It’s impressive how they’re capable of blending the fury of Black Metal with the epic ambience and all acoustic and tribal elements from Folk Metal, which is exactly the case in the multi-layered tune Ödet (“fate”), whereas minimalist acoustic guitars permeate the air in the pensive outro Drömmen Om Vårdträdet (“the dream of the memorial tree”), where the subtle sound of the bitterly cold wind puts a beautiful ending to the album.

There are countless places where you can put your dirty hands on such amazing album of Black and Folk Metal, such as Bhleg’s own BandCamp page, the Nordvis Produktion webstore, the Sound Pollution webstore, Season of Mist, Napalm Records, Nuclear Blast, EMP, Apple Music, Amazon, and so on. As you can see, there’s no excuse to not support such talented underground act, and you can also follow them on Facebook and stream more of their music on Spotify to get even more immersed in their obscure, folk-infused realm. And until our fate comes for us all, we have a very good reason to keep banging our heads to the sound of Bhleg’s undisputed music.

Best moments of the album: Vyss and Slukad Sol.

Worst moments of the album: Gyllene Gal.

Released in 2021 Nordvis Produktion

Track listing
1. Vyss 9:16
2. Alyr III 8:56
3. Gyllene Gal 5:12
4. Slukad Sol 10:18
5. Ödet 8:36
6. Drömmen Om Vårdträdet 4:34

Band members
L. – lead vocals
S. – guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals

Guest musician
A. – drums (session)