Alda
Passage

Bindrune with past and present bands/releases has really found a superb niche within a particular style with its folky, natural black metal acts like Panoptcion, Nechochwen, Obsequiae (though no longer on Bindrune) , Waldgefluster , Infera Bruo, Ahamkara, Falls or Rauros and such, so it seems that Washington State’s Alda and Bindrune is a match made in heaven.

Clearly falling under the ‘Cascasdian black metal’ banner both geographically and stylistically, as with many bands of this ilk, this  isn’t traditional black metal and with the addition of a cello and some lovely female (and male) croons  along with the bands nature loving themes, to further upset the church burning masses, Alda is clearly going to get the dreaded hipster black metal tag. However, on its merits alone , Passage is a fine release, though arguably not quite up to the standards set by 2011s :Tahoma:.

The 14 minute “The Clearcut” starts the album in stunning fashion, setting the bar rather high, a bar the rest of the album strains to meet. Delicate acoustics, Irish accented campfire/folk singing bleeds into a stirring, melodic, wispy, tippy tappy blast beat and distant howls. its like The Cranberries meets the first Borknagar album, and its utterly gorgeous through acoustic segue/cello and ultimate climactic crescendo and acoustic fadeout.

The rest of the next four lengthy songs are cut from the same hemp cloth, but never quite strive the same level of rousing, regal, organic majesty (the same issue plagued Wiegedood’s recent,  similarly styled album De doden hebben het goed ). The 11 minute title track builds patiently, and frankly wanders a bit, but that’s a known trope of the style, and is largely instrumental for about 6 of the 10 minutes. But it eventually does peak into to one of those galloping, airy blast beats, although short lived.

“Weathering” initially follows the formula to a misty, smoky tee, with acoustics and hypnotic clean vocals, but the meat of the song is more languid and doomy rather than the explosive tremolo fuzz of the prior two songs, with a nice Jeremiah Johnson sample and acoustic section then one of those nice, shimmery gallops. Instrumental interlude, “The Crooked Trail” has a Panopticon air of Americana/blue grass before the baying Coyotes herald “Aminus” with a familiar, 3/4 or  6/8 breezy canter, which by now you have heard a few times, and it’sperdictable acoustic then blast climax is actually a bit of an album ending let down.

In all :Tahoma: is the more raw, and more memorable album, but there are moments on Passage which are brilliant, wilting and emotional, making for a still very enjoyable entry into the annals of Cascadian black metal, from folks who actually hail from Cascadia.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
July 20th, 2015

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