Hey! Listen to Darkestrah!

There’ve been some pretty bitching black metal albums of late. I guess an obvious name to mention would be Saor, but there are some other great artists doing similar things. The Frozen Ocean managed to renounce a lot of black metal tropes and make something completely new out of an old sound with this year’s EP The Prowess of Dormition. Forndom also fucking killed it this year by renouncing the general sound (but not the spirit) of black metal with Dauðra Dura, and Goatpsalm did something very similar too with Downstream. This article, however, is going to cover a band that’s playing around with more symphonic elements rather than folk-influenced black metal (though there are still elements of folk): Darkestrah.

Hey! Listen to Mirrors For Psychic Warfare!

There have been a few recent HLT articles I’ve done about bands that sort of take the metal aesthetic and reshape it in really cool and funky ways. Forndom and Goatpsalm both take a folky approach to metal, and then add a sort of mysticism to it that sounds like some pagan sacrifice in the woods of Scandinavia. Mirrors For Psychic Warfare—the side project of Neurosis frontman Scott Kelly and frequent collaborator Sanford Parker (Buried At Sea, ex-Nachtmystium)—does something similar to the latter artists, in that their sound very much relies on buildup of sound using a sparse amount of instrumentation and a slow but steady beat, much like a Neurosis album.

Hey! Listen to Forndom!

What exactly defines something as "metal" these days? An off-the-cuff answer would simply be “heavy-sounding music,” or some sort of rock music that scoops the hell out of the guitars' distortion. But if that’s the case, how do you explain the likes of Botanist, who doesn’t even use guitar (but is nonetheless pretty heavy), or Deftones or even Edguy, who use the metal sound in different ways that aren’t always “heavy?” I believe that what defines a piece of music as metal is an inherent darkness in its sound. It doesn’t necessarily need to be “satanic” darkness, or something religiously evil, but metal admits that there is a malevolence to the world at large, whether it's through death, black, power, or what have you. Sweden’s Forndom is not a traditionally “evil” band. L. Swärd, the man responsible for the project, doesn’t bow down to the typical metal ideas—Faustian dealings, virgin sacrifice, readings from the Necronomicon, etc.—instead, he takes inspiration from the Norse culture and the culture of Scandinavia in general, and this becomes the full brunt of his music.