Spectral Lore
III

If you were to ask me who are the most promising new era black metal bands that can carry the post ridden sub genre into the next millennium, I would tell you the divisive Deafheaven, Australia’s Woods of Desolation, but also France’s The Great Old Ones and Greece’s Spectral Lore. The latter two burst onto the scene in 2012 with a artful, elegant takes on black metal, The Great Old Ones with Al-Azif, and Spectral Lore with their third watershed album, Sentinel.

And now both bands have released follow up albums in 2014, although Spectral Lore filled the two year void with a couple of stellar EPs, he/they have released a chronological successor to their first two efforts, I and II, which I have not heard as Sentinel was my first exposure to Ayloss’ superbly crafted, atmospheric, one man black metal project.

III continues the bands celestial, gorgeous melodic take on slightly Cascadian black metal, with a distinctive Hellenic lean, but is even more ambitious. The deep conceptual album is contained on 2 separate CDs, one being the 50 minute, 4 song CD subtitled ‘Singularity‘ and the second is 37 minutes, 3 songs, themed “Eternity‘. And it’s not just the music that’s ambitious, I’d be remiss if I didn’t note the CDs utterly gorgeous packaging , artwork and meticulous 20 page booklet. But for those of you that will simply download this from the band’s bandcamp page, Ill give you some info on the music you will be graced with.

And graced is almost not enough  credit. Sometimes I feel truly honored to listen to a band and their creation, and in the instance of Ayloss and Spectral Lore, I get the feeling that I’m witness to something truly special.

Obviously the style of the band and this style in general isn’t a quick satisfying listen, there are long stretches of rangy atmospherics and acoustics as shown early in the album within the 16 minute, second track “The Veiled Garden”, so don’t expect to throw this album in for a quick listen on the way to work. That being said, opener “Omphalos” does get right to it with no intro, delivering a quick, shrill  and majestic, tremelo picked riffage right out of the gate.

The third track, “The Cold March Towards Eternal Brightness” on the Singularity is the highlight of the first CD, with a bright, uplifting gait and at 3:38 Ayloss delivers one his signature killer riffs that’s just stunning and the shimmering transition at 7:53  is gorgeous, but  the riff about 11 minutes in is just knee wiltingly breathtaking. If it does not strum at a string deep in your soul- you are not human. The first CD’s last track “Drifting Through Moss and Stone”, though purely instrumental,  has a distinct pagan/folk hues with 11 minutes of engaging acoustics strums  and violins.

Eternity begins with more atmospheric acoustics to start the second stanza with, the 10 minute “The Spiral Fountain” before more of Ayloss’s superb, layered melodies sashay in with a distinctly regal, Greek aura and some well done clean choral croons. At at times like the serpentine but harmonic riffing at around  4 and a half  minutes in and 6 minutes in , there simply isn’t anyone writing riffs as glorious, majestic and melodic  like Ayloss in metal right now. Not Even Deafheaven or Agalloch, with whom Spectral Lore share a tiny amount of stylistic DNA. Alcest used to, but now, Woods Desolation and maybe Mare Cognitum (with whom Spectral Lore has released a split with) are the only ones I can think of that come close right now. Case and point the stirring start of  the 13 minute “A Rider Through the Land of an Infinite Dreamscape”. It’s  just rivetingly beautiful, throw in some subtle  angelic background choirs and keys  then an Ennio  Moriccone like break at 4 minutes or so and even a slow doomy, ethereal passage and it becomes utterly magical. And that’s before the jaw dropping section from 8:20- 10-10 that’s every bit as epic as the closing of “Duty”, from the split with Locust Leaves, still one of my favorite pieces of music ever.

After the preceding breathtaking duo, the 13 minute closing instrumental “Cosmic Significance” seems a bit of  a let down, though it is a nice relaxing atmospheric listen, and I pretty well skip it every time, preferring to bask  in the sheer grandiosity of Ayloss’s guitar driven masterpieces that precede it. The fact this is the work of a single man (musically and artistically) blows my mind and I can only hope Ayloss continues to deliver this level of excellence and truly change the game.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
July 7th, 2014

Comments

  1. Commented by: SRK

    Great album, despite all the twists and turns it never feels incoherent. Only let down is the stiff production.


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