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.
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.
I’m not incredibly knowledgable on folk metal, but I have noticed a recent trend of bands that have done a great job putting folk elements into their music. Wintersun and Saor are the first to come to my mind, but even other, lesser known groups, like Forndom (which will hopefully find its own HLT in the future) have done incredible jobs reinventing the folk metal sound.What Russia’s Goatpsalm brings to the proverbial folk metal table is, in my opinion, incredibly original, at least in presentation. It’s as if the band has been able to strip folk metal down to its barest elements—the sounds of nature, the occasional acoustic guitar, and an assortment of ethnic instruments—and sort of build their sound up from there.