4 out of 5
Label: Auris Apothecary
Produced by: Alder Glade
Whenever I’m splashing in the pool of a genre with which I have very little experience – black metal, in this example – I’ll normally add caveats to my review underlining that, trying to accept that my ears are likely not developed enough to hear things fans of the scene might be hearing. While that’s certainly still true, I also love the power of music: its ability to reach across genre divides and grab you, if and when it works.
Auris Apothecary’s compilation of Alder Glade’s two demo releases onto one cassette shows the artist starting out in familiar territory (the kind of territory where my dumb ears are at their most dumb), but even then, I’m able to suss out some aspects that keep me tuned in, suggesting we’re in for something potentially a little different. The lo-fi recording; the jackhammer, cymbal-loving drums; and the distant, howling yelling are all in place; Alder Glade – Drøüyn – can actually seem to play his instruments, though, with lacking skill being something of a hallmark of the scene, and secondly, that these songs appear composed, meaning they’re a reach beyond the generally simplistic chord progressions and thrash. I’ve read this might be “post” black metal; perhaps this is a more accessible version that clearly sets him outside of the core club for enjoying. Regardless, I was entranced, and I think there’s absolutely enough of the drapery of the style to firmly root it there.
Lyrically, nothing much ventures outside the doom and gloom of black metal, but Drøüyn sticks to a nature-infused theme with their lyrics that also creeps into the folky touches along the way, and gives the songs an appropriate awe-of-the-unknown vibe.
Demo 1 and Demo 2 each follow somewhat similar structures, with the opening track the most typically structured, before about halfway through introduces nuance in the drumming, and breaks in the meter that are pretty uncommmon. There will be some thrash in the middle of the demos, mixed with ambient / folk elements that further solidify the uniqueness of Alder Glade’s sound, and a final, extended track that does suggest that “post” tag by doing a build and release setup that, vocal style and tinny production aside, could pass for post-rock.
Regarding the production, there’s difference there as well, though. While this is essentially flat and lo-fi as required, Drøüyn knows how to take advantage of silence to make the most of that, and works dimension in the percussion. I would say I preferred the lower fidelity of Demo 1, as it gives the songs a bit of rawness, but the slight step up in gloss on Demo 2 makes its eventual climaxes hit that much harder.
Packed by Auris Apothecary and designed, inimitably, by DAS, the whole thing is in order, coming in a tin case with tree crumbles, and a little bottle of ash, ’cause why not.