Traditional string instruments in metal, while not exactly commonplace, are certainly nothing new to the genre. From Blind Guardian to Ne Obliviscaris, orchestral backings to a singular instrumentalist in a band, it’s hardly the least likely thing to hear from a metal band. There’s no specific subgenre one could pin it down to either: there’s guaranteed to be at least a few bands in every facet of the community using this tool, whether it be deathcore band Whitechapel’s use of strings to augment their songs or avant-garde black metal group Sigh adding some panache to their already bizarre sound, strings are quickly becoming a more and more common tool in metal.
Windfaerer comes forth with their debut album to strut their stuff alongside these other bands: one of their primary members is an electric violinist, whose work here comprises the majority of the album’s leads. Aided by the typical tools of the blackened doom/doomy black metal trade, they’re here to bang out some in-your-face tunes, taking the listener on a sonic journey through a world where aggression and beauty intertwine and become practically synonymous.
It’s easy to listen to Tenebrosum and get lost in the music, and that’s certainly what the band seems to be going for. Vocals aim for an Agalloch-y whispered harshness instead of the genre’s typical theatricality, and the guitars spend most of their time providing background textures upon which the violin can dance. The drums and guitars work in an unusually close harmony here: the driving rhythmic works of both instruments compound on and complement each other perfectly, pushing the tunes forward at a perfect pace.
Windfaerer’s combination of black metal and doom elements is fairly standard, drawing comparisons to artists across the board, but it’s the one-two punch of the electric violin and the flair with which the band pulls off this style that elevates it beyond the realm of typicality. Riffs feel particularly tight and locked into place, the band acts as a cohesive, driving unit, and every section feels teeming with energy and life. Constructed carefully, tightly, but exploding with pizzazz, this band certainly knows their way around a song or two.
Despite the slow, drawling tropes that characterize the band’s subgenres, Tenebrosum is determined to push forward through the mires of guitar feedback and hazy production to deliver a final product that feels more nimble than the gloomy goliaths that typically inhabit the realm of anything this doomy. Fraught with outward bursts of suddenly-released tension and long, drawn out passages of lush guitars and spiraling drum rolls, over which the violin works magic with its beautiful, textured soloing, Windfaerer has created an album that engages the listener in an aural epic that twists together brutal harshness with tasteful touches, both of which serve to accentuate the other. It’s impossible to listen to Tenebrosum and not be whisked away to some dazzling fantasy land.
Windfaerer’s Tenebrosum gets…