Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
- The Intransigence Of The Soul
- A Heart Of Eternal Winter (And The Longing For Your Warmth)
- If This Is The Best We Can Get Then I Am Disappointed
The album opens with sampled winter winds and gentle guitar work, a soft lead in to one of the best albums I've heard all year. The guitar advances into a faster, tremolo-picked melody, and the vocals hit. The pace and sound of the first two minutes, and the mournful atmosphere they evoke, are to me the perfect example of the real beauty of black metal - sweeping, cold, building a vision of nature in all her bleak glory.
When I was very young, my grandfather built me a tiny cabin at the back of his heavily forested block of land. Recently I've not had many occasions to visit it, but the last time I made the trek it was a fight through trees suddenly overgrowing the path, brambles snarling out in the light rain, until I reached the cabin. It was nestled back into a forest that seemed more imposing than it had when I was younger, and the blank windows conveyed a strange sense of nostalgia, loss, and somehow the end of innocence. The lyrics of that first track, "The Intransigence Of The Soul", read as a conflict born out of the same feeling - seeing your innocence disappear as you grow and learn, and suddenly the world is more complex than you can understand, everything makes you afraid and confused, and your mind has snarled itself beyond hope of escape in seemingly impossible contradictions. "Intransigence" deals in this way with a sense of existential dread, both a fear of and longing for death, a struggle building intensity through the song, and ending with a desperate series of unanswered questions, screamed out at the universe, the gods, nature, whoever, in fact, might be listening to souls lost in the winter.
The next track, "A Heart Of Eternal Winter (And The Longing For Your Warmth)", opens peacefully, again, with gentle guitars, before my only minor sticking point with the album appears, in the form of the sung vocals.While the screaming is harsh, imposing, but somehow ethereal, and the spoken passages perfectly underscore lyrical points of importance, for me the clean singing was slightly too muddy to really add to the music. That being said, I'm a bit puritanical when it comes to clean singing in black metal. Strong lyrics, revolving around Norse mythology, delivered through a layered mix of harsh vocals to excellent effect, weave through the guitars and double kick hammering, to build a wonderfully cold and sorrowful picture of a banished god, stalking the forests of Midgard as the three winters close in.
The final song on the album is where the really heavy central themes of the "The Thawing Winds Of The Morning Sun" come into play. The guitar eases off, taking on a softer, more ambient feeling, and allowing the lyrics to really come across early in the song, before building back up to an intense finale. "If This Is The Best We Can Get Then I Am Disappointed" considers, as the title suggests, the miserable state of human affairs, the contradictory nature of our philosophies, our ideals, even our existence, in a piece of music that really conveys the tormented and conflicted existence we are privy to. The short section of spoken vocals which close the track, and the album, to me perfectly express the feeling of the whole artwork;
"I am disappointed in us, I am disappointed in me
If we’re not here for a reason, what is the existence that shall be?
Is this really the best that we can be?
Then please have mercy and let it end with me"
I look forward to seeing what's next from this excellent black metal project.