The Flight of Sleipnir
Eventide

As I write this review, it’s the second week of June – and so far in these two weeks, we’ve had a rainy, miserable weekend with a HIGH of 38 degrees, we’ve had a 3 day stretch of hot, sticky, humid 90s, and just about everything in-between. I’M OVER IT! Just give me normal summer shit so I can go hiking without dying of cold or heatstroke. It’s all I ask.

If summer means more time in the woods for you, too – then undoubtedly you’re looking for some good soundtracks to enjoy along the way. I’m sure you already have some favorites – personally, I tend to go for long, epic, progressive-type Black Metal for such occasions. Enslaved always does the trick pretty well. I’ll turn to the debut from Chicago’s Dismalimerence and their debut Tome: 1 quite a bit. If I’m dealing with a bunch of hills and need a little extra juice, Dodsrit is perfect. But if you’re not in any hurry and you’ve got some time to wander and reflect and marvel at nature’s wonder – then The Flight of Sleipnir might have just the thing ya need.

This band has quietly put together quite a little career for themselves – this being the band’s 6th full length album in 11 years. But one thing that has stood out over that span of time, is that the band’s sound has progressed almost opposite of what you might expect. While lots of bands over time start softening the edges and toning things down, The Flight of Sleipnir have progressively gotten a little bit sharper and a little bit more aggressive. No, this is by no means Darkthrone or Gorgoroth out here pummeling you away with snarling blasphemy – it’s definitely in that more modern Deafheaven/Wolves in the Throne Room American Post-Black Metal realm, but the band has definitely built itself some lean muscle since their much folk-ier beginnings. While opener “Volund” certainly starts with a very post-y, very uplifting Isis-esque like riff and melody, midway through the song the band switches to a much different, more blackened attack; where on their last album the band relied on more fuzzy doom-inspired heft at times. This darker focus becomes more evident on second track “January” which features some great tremolo-picking and pummeling double-bass drumming behind vocalist/bassist Clayton Cushman’s classic Black metal shrieks, and is by far the most aggressive song the band has yet put together. That said, “Thaw” and closer “Servitude” show the band isn’t just trying out the approach once and putting it back on the shelf, but instead testing the dark waters and generally allowing themselves to indulge in a little more evil. Spooky!

But of course, these guys aren’t here to necessarily just melt your face and blast your eardrums – these are long, meandering sounds taking you through the peaks and valleys of emotions and levels of intensity. They’re still capable of building beautiful, more peaceful atmospheres – as evidence on sections of nearly every track. Whether it’s the piano and acoustic-guitar-led first-half of “Harvest,” or Ghost Bath-inspired clean guitars over a bed of songbirds at the end of “January,” the band is still just as invested on the quieter, more introspective moments as they are on the moments of fury. They’re also adding some neat experimentation, too – taking a cue from Solstafir on “Bathe the Stone in Blood,” bringing some slide and steel guitars into the mix before building into a thick, consuming crescendo that serves as one of the album’s real highlights.

This is one of those albums that, if you’ve never found yourself a particular fan of this band or just weren’t really on board, I really do recommend you check out and give a second chance. It’s not a complete 180-degree turn on the sounds that this band built themselves upon, but there’s a real focused energy here that I think shines through. To these ears, it’s far and away their finest work yet – one that, as the title suggests, best balances the darkness and light, the chaotic and the serene. If nothing else, as I mentioned before, this is another album seemingly purpose-built for getting lost in the woods, going on a long car ride, whatever you need to escape day-to-day life and just immerse yourself in your surroundings and reflect for a while.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
June 23rd, 2021

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