Listening to black metal can be frustrating in many ways but sometimes, the ways in which it is frustrating can also be very rewarding. For example, the element of obscurity and persona involved in black metal can cause confusion, making otherwise excellent music hard to discover. But on the other hand, this obscurity can make discovering new music a real joy; there’s a special feeling in hunting down a project or a track. That’s how I felt when I was preparing for this premiere, trying to zero in on Mystras, a side project from the illustrious Ayloss (Spectral Lore). I found a track on Bandcamp from a compilation. I learned more about Greek history. And, most of all, I got my hands on some truly incredible, raw, and powerful black metal tinged with the folk elements that have been present on Ayloss’s career before (more on that below).

Luckily for me, I had an official track to help me with that last point, a track I’m excited to share with you today! “Storm the Walls of Mystras” is much rawer than Ayloss’s output with Spectral Lore. The drums are buried deep in the mix, with the cymbals dispersed to all four ends of the earth, creating a kind of sea-crash, static-void sound that runs through the background of the track. The vocals are abrasive, as to be expected, but also punctuated with deep, choir, monastic like chanting that works really well with the drums to set up the epic, foreboding tone of the track. But the guitars are where the true triumph of this track lies.

The main guitar line is great, in and of itself, delivering black metal fury in heaps. But it’s the acoustic touches, drawing from Greek folk music their composition and tones, that really set the track. For those following Ayloss’s career closely, they’d be recognizable from Gnosis, one of his more beguiling, enchanting, and expansive works, steeped in mysticism and folk music. Some of those vibes carry over to “Storm the Walls of Mystras”, lending the track an unexpected emotional punch and depth. Set aside the harrowing, lo-fi production of the rest of the instrumentation, these acoustic ideas and sounds cut clear through the mix and nestle deeply in your heart.

All of this comes to us from an upcoming release titled Castles Conquered and Reclaimed. We’ll make sure to keep you updated as more details of this release arise; for now, make sure to watch the YouTube channel above as well as Spectral Lore’s Bandcamp page for more details. And listen to Gnosis, will you?