While the very first wave of black metal isn’t my favorite style of music, there’s a lot for me to like there. After all, I love thrash and I love heavy metal, and those two genres influenced/were being birthed alongside the first wave of black metal. So when those elements of it are accentuated, as they are with Cirkeln, I immediately pay attention. Throw in the project’s previous infatuation with Tolkien and fantasy at large (hint: this album’s cover art depicts a scene from the Legendarium), and you have everything you need for music that’s right up my alley. It also helps that the music itself is excellent, channeling just the right balance of aggression, dramatic grandiosity, and melancholy. You can hear all of that, and more, on “Natassja”, the project’s new single from its upcoming album, A Song to Sorrow. Let’s get to it!

Going back to the influences which tinge this track, I love how the opening leads are all heavy metal dramatics writ large while the main riff which follows them has the abrasive tightness of the early Bathory and Venom days of black metal. That dramatic flair also returns later on in the track in the form of operatic synths, recalling the always lucrative ties between black metal and dark electronics. Add in the expressive vocals, present drums, and some quiet passages which flesh out the track’s heavier segments with much needed contrast, and you have a fantastic track that’s able to hit you on several different levels of expression.

All of these elements turn “Natassja” into a typical Cirkeln track, both heavy and ponderous at the same time, black metal with a distinct flair for the funereal, the crimson-draped, the base dramatic gesture which gave birth to black metal all of those years ago. Other parts of the album lean in on these elements, creating more grandiose epics as well as more intimate, personal songs.

A Song to Sorrow releases on March 25th and you can, and should, pre-order it right here.