While England lies now in the throes of sedition and ugliness, there’s a certain air of history, myth, and folklore that you can get in almost no other place. Both due to the length of human settlement on the isles and to the literary penchant of more modern denizens of the area, English and British mythology is one of the most fascinating and haunting collection of stories out there (and becomes even more so if one digs past the modern gilding and into the weirder tales of the Welsh, the Irish, the Scottish, and the proto-Bretons). Naturally, this corpus of mystery and beguiling tales is a natural lodestone for metal; acts as diverse as Black Sabbath, Winterfylleth, and Primordial have drawn on it for inspiration. The result is often very emotional and deep-seated music, informed by the tale-telling traditions of old and the foggy aesthetics of the genre to lean towards black, doom, and stoner metal.
Gévaudan (probably named after The Beast of the same name, one of the more influential proto-werewolf tales) are very much of the same kind of milieu. Their debut album, Iter, was released on October 4th and dabbles in the kind of gloomy, emotional doom that goes so well with English and British folklore. Through the span of four long tracks, they weave a heavy web of chords, crashing cymbals, and resounding vocals, sometimes dipping into black metal influences to enhance their folk and doom foundations. In the regard, they might best be compared to the aforementioned Winterfylleth or the mighty Fen. They certainly create the same type of atmosphere, summoning forth both the season of Autumn and ancient tales of pagan, Christian, druidic, and folk histories with their music.
Opening track “Dawntreader” is probably the most fitting place to start. Beyond just being the first track, it also captures what Gévaudan do best; among crashing chords, soothing at first and faster later, bearing some faint hint of second wave black metal, live deep vocals who are very clearly utilizing a story-telling mode. Their measured meter, which later explodes into heights of expression of the doom metal variety, grants the track a lilting and lyrical atmosphere which paints a picture quite convincingly. This mode is utilized throughout the album and works very well due to the fact that it’s not adhered to religiously; where more emotional and evocative vocals are required, like on the following “Maelstrom” or on the excellent closing track, “Duskwalker”, the vocals deliver that as well. On the latter track they also climb up to the heights of growls, letting the black metal influences shine bright as the album comes to a closing.
Put all of this together and you have a somber, engrossing, and effective album. The stories and mythological tapestry in which the album works grants it its context while the music executes on the aesthetic with tried and true tools from doom metal (pay special attention to the excellent guitar solos replete throughout the album, which hint towards the root of the genre in 70’s psychedelic rock). The end result is another great album in the tradition of doom metal from the United Kingdom, powerfully evocative and emotional.