Edinburgh Occult quartet Juniper Grave is no stranger to the stage, having opened for the likes of Witchsorrow, Slough Feg and the spellbinding Dystopian Future Movies during their short existence. Debut album Of Hellions & Harridans (Wasted State Records) shows a style more in tune with the likes of Alunah, a hugely retrospective feel coating the elements of the band’s sound. Continue reading
No genre is set in stone, but Black Metal has been through quite a series of self-discoveries since three goons from Newcastle covered themselves in leather and spikes. Belgian six-piece Saille represent what I can’t help but think of as the “niceifying” of Black Metal, and the nine symphonic, atmospheric tracks on Eldritch (Code 666) may come as something of a shock if you’re used to the nastier end of the genre.
Not that this is going to set charts alight anytime soon, of course – by true mainstream standards the factors that make Black Metal unappealing (harsh shrieked vocals, buzzing guitars, sparsely but effectively used blast-beats) are still present, but they’re assembled with a grace, a breadth of expression, even a delicateness that Euronymous would have taken as a personal insult. The pomp and bombast that often characterises much “symphonic” Black Metal is also absent, and it’s a welcome absence – this isn’t Dimmu Borgir thundering away like Mussorgsky conducting Bowser’s Theme, but a much more reflective and considered approach to melodic, keyboard saturated Black Metal. The main reference point that occurred to me while listening was Schammasch, and though Eldritch lacks the depth and profundity of their monstrous Contradiction (Prosthetic), it still speaks positively of their knack for constructing Black Metal which is both catchy and deep.
You’re waiting for the catch, of course, and in this case it’s that Eldritch doesn’t quite have the depth of ideas needed to keep attention across its nine-track length and starts to outstay its welcome a little. There are plenty of excellent ideas for the band to build on, however – from the spoken-word accompaniment of ‘Great God Pan’ to the churningly catchy melodies of ‘Aklo’ – that if they can trim their excess fat and develop more focus next time they might deliver something genuinely special.
For now, Eldritch comes highly recommended for anyone who doesn’t mind their Black Metal on the “nice” side.
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