Review: Alder Glade – Spine Of The World

Alder Glade is the solo project of a multi-talented musician from Brisbane, Australia. The term ‘solo’ has to be taken literally, because he can be held responsible for absolutely everything that has anything to do with the music of Alder Glade in any way. To say little is known about the man behind this project does not even scratch the surface of the truth, the man, known only as Drøüyn, is pretty much a mystery. Or maybe a well-kept secret would be a better term, that remains to be seen. Perfectly fitting the shroud of mystery surrounding him, his preferred style of music is atmospheric black folk metal. His previous work consists of two demos in 2014 and 2015, conveniently titled Demo I and Demo II, and a compilation called Exordium, which contains the songs of the two demos. Apparently the title was chosen with premeditation, empathically hinting towards what was yet to come, because two years after its release Exordium is succeeded by Drøüyn’s first full-length called Spine Of The World.

The first thing that struck me once opener Spine Of The World had moved passed its intro was the thin, cold production that immediately surrounds you with a chilling atmosphere you can feel in your bones despite the folky rhythm. An atmosphere that gets even more icy when, without warning, the folky tunes burst into a much more black metal oriented rhythm, complete with an inciting drum line and hoarse, distorted vocal work. Things are even turned up a notch in the next song called Lord Of The Lakes, which for the most part is a downright aggressive song, alternating bone crunching parts with melodic, almost soothing tunes. A combination that prevents you from reaching freezing point, but will definitely stir up feelings of coldness and unease.

Luckily (or not, depending on your preferences) there actually appears to be rest for the wicked here. Sun Ritual offers an oasis of rest and relative warmth in the otherwise seriously desolate and sub cooled world Drøüyn manages to create with his music. It’s not a particularly big oasis though, not even two minutes later the arctic winds return when Kingdom Aflame kicks off in yet another bone crunching black metal rhythm. Here too, like in all the songs on Spine Of The World, the relentless punishing of your ear drums is somewhat softened by the melodic folk parts, making things more varied and interesting in my opinion. The next song, Wheel Of Stars is by far the most compelling, haunting piece of music on this release. Starting relatively quiet and peaceful its lingering composition and ditto vocal line lets the song grow into a desolation and despair breathing track. Closing track Beltane, the longest track on the album clocking over 12 minutes, is composition-wise pretty much a resume of the entire album. Melodic, guitar-oriented parts suddenly burst into raw, rough parts and vice versa, creating the proverbial rollercoaster feeling before ending in a slowly fading outro. A great way to conclude this album.

If I had to decide between the earlier mentioned choices, a mystery or a well-kept secret, to describe Drøüyn and his music I’d choose the latter. Hands down. The interaction between folk and black metal combined with a thin, cold production turns out very well. On top of that, or better, apart from that Drøüyn proves he is a gifted multi-talented musician with a great eye for compositions and adding atmosphere to his songs. This leaves us with six songs that are to be enjoyed right away but will also grow as you replay them. The distinct black metal influences, especially in the vocal department, might scare one or two people off, but overall it will appeal to a wide range of metal fans. This is definitely a more than average album. Way more than average to be honest, well worth your undivided attention.

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