This has been sort of the year of stoner metal. I swear a new entry to the stoner/doom/sludge genre comes out every week. I’ve ignored most of it. It’s not that I dislike it, I just haven’t been in the mood. But once in a while I’ll sample a few tracks here and there, give each band a minute or two of my time. The Flight of Sleipnir didn’t even require that much effort–within the first ten seconds of the opening track I was hooked.
How these guys aren’t on the radar is beyond me, because this is pretty much everything I could ever want from an album. Sure, the production isn’t that great, but neither is Black Sabbath’s, so let’s get over that right form the start and soak this all in. Here’s a band that just hands you everything you could wnat on a silver platter right form the get-go. A killer bluesy stoner metal groove, delicious acoustic interludes, perfectly executed black metal style screaming, beautiful clean vocals that harken to Mikael Akerfeldt, and we’re only five minutes into the album.
As Ashes Rise (The Embrace of Dusk)
As you might have expected, the opener is just an introduction to what they have in store. Sure they’ve played all of their cards. No additional styles or elements are implemented further down the line. But what they’ve introduced just keeps on improving as the album progresses.
There is a surprising prominence of acoustic melodies packed into Essence of Nine, so much so that I’m inclined to call it folk metal just as much as stoner metal. The abundant allusions to Norse mythology and use of rune stones on a decidedly doom metal album cover suggest that the band would agree. That distinction alone could make an album stand apart, but if “stoner folk metal” is now a term with meaning, they’ve done more than initiate. They’ve come awfully close to perfecting it.
The Seer in White
Because the quality of their song writing overshadows the fact that what they’re doing here is unique. And while I’ve showcased those songs that most appeal to me–the most folk-centric of the lot–there is plenty to be had for fans of the more punishing characteristics of doom. It’s never quite crushing enough to rival the best artists of that sort of music, but as a compliment to the folk side of their sound rather than the main focus of the music, it’s certainly sufficient. Given a live venue and enough amplification I think they would blow me away.
As Cinders Burn (The Wake of Dawn)
Anyway, there you have it. I think I’ll spend more time talking about this album than actually listening to it throughout the year. It’s not the sort of thing I’m always in the mood for, but I can find no fault. People looking for strictly doom metal might find it lacking, but if you’re interested in something a bit more diverse Essence of Nine is a sure bet.