Spectral Lore


Written by: MST on 30/05/2014 11:57:22

One man black metal is at its peak currently, as the internet provides a great platform for solo musicians to release material without even the slightest effort to promote themselves. Fans of obscure extreme metal know that quality and exposure don't always go hand in hand, as the best acts in especially the lesser known subgenres tend to hide somewhere beneath the horde of run-of-the-mill bands that play whatever is currently "in", and then earn the rest on image and promotion. Spectral Lore is a one man black metal project, and the man behind the Spectral Lore moniker, Ayloss, has been releasing his own blend of ambient black metal for almost ten years now. I first discovered his music on 2012's "Sentinel", which as it turns out was actually a selection of material that Ayloss didn't want to release as part of his series of albums known as "I", "II" and so on. Therefore, this fourth full length album of his is called "III", and while I liked what "Sentinel" brought to the world of atmospheric and ambient black metal in 2012, "III" is a much more ambitious beast.

As with any 90-minute album, "III" is a challenge at first, to put it bluntly. Only one of the seven tracks finish before the 10 minute mark, and never once during the 90 minutes does Ayloss meander about in the same riffs for too long. From the blasting drums and epic riffs of the start of opening track "Omphalos" to the ambient sections in songs like "The Veiled Garden" and "Cosmic Significance", there's always something new to discover and enjoy on this album. The production is organic, yet everything seems well balanced; the keyboard in the background perfectly underlines the drums as they vary in tempo, with the quite audible bass subtly following the guitars as Ayloss paints soundscapes of foreign galaxies of wonder. The "ambient" part of the ambient black metal label is crucial here, as the atmosphere is often quite spacey. The lyrics also often deal with space-related themes, but where most lyricists in this genre use their words to describe melancholy, loss and hatred, the lyrics on this album deal with much more life-affirming issues such as discovering the signifiance of one's existence and the potential that dwells within each human being.

Though not quite reaching for a decidedly optimistic and downright positive vibe, there's always a feeling somewhere in the music that feels somehow uplifting. Especially apparent in the absolutely grandiose compositions in album highlight "The Cold March towards Eternal Brightness", the music on "III" strives for greatness and achieves it. Ayloss navigates through uncounted magnificent riffs, endless epic storytelling and plenty of atmospheric ambience seemingly without effort, as everything feels completely natural. Even the 11-minute instrumental acoustic track "Drifting Through Moss and Ancient Stone" feels as if the album wouldn't be whole without it, as it precedes another standout track in "The Spiral Fountain", a grand black metal composition filled to the brim with astonishing riffing and bountiful atmosphere.

It should be clear by now that Spectral Lore's "III" has hit something special within me, and not without reason. As "Cosmic Significance" ends the 90-minute endeavor as a primarily ambient track with a black metal section in the center, it does so pretty much perfectly by highlighting the (indeed) cosmic magnitude of the material you've just listened through. I don't mean to imply that "III" is perfect by any means, but from where I'm standing it doesn't get much closer than this. For fans of the genre, "III" should be an obvious contender for album of the year and a testament to why solo projects have the potential to be so good; multi-instrumentalist masterminds like Ayloss release music that perfectly expresses the exact image that they had in mind without having to water it down or deal with compromises. "III" feels absolutely complete, both musically and conceptually, and it cements Spectral Lore's status as one of the most important names in today's atmospheric black metal scene.


Download: The Veiled Garden, The Cold March towards Eternal Brightness, The Spiral Fountain, Cosmic Significance
For The Fans Of: Darkspace, Mare Cognitum, Burzum, Elysian Blaze
Listen: Bandcamp

Release date 02.05.2014
I, Voidhanger Records

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