Contrary to what the metal press/blogosphere might lead one to believe, Amalie Bruun is actually not the only female in the world currently making black metal. Whether Brunn actually deserves all the attention (or the kvltboi rage) that gets thrown her way is another question for another time (though in the interest of full disclosure, I am a fan). However, the seemingly constant focus on her project Myrkur undoubtedly draws attention away from other bands that don’t happen to have an actress/former indie pop artist in their lineup. Those bands run the gamut from second wave Satanic coven Asagraum to the more outré Ninhursag to virtually every point on the black metal spectrum in between, but since the women in these bands don’t generate controversy like Bruun, their outstanding music doesn’t reach anywhere near the same sized audience.
In a perfect world, Ukrainian musician Lilita Arndt and her one-woman project Ieschure would get Myrkur-level attention for her debut album The Shadow. With an aesthetic that’s half Transylvanian Hunger and half Ingrid Pitt in Countess Dracula, Arndt has crafted an album that reeks of henbane and copper and sounds like it was conceived in the basement of Helvete back in ’93. The Shadow is raw, lo-fi, and hypnotic like the absolute best of the Norwegian second wave, but it’s also haunting in a way that not a lot of black metal can achieve thanks to her seemingly innate sense of dynamics. This can be heard most clearly in her approach to vocals. Arndt sounds like roughly half a dozen different people on the album, utilizing shrieks, whispers, spoken word, melodic-yet-not-pretty cleans, and at least several others besides, often layering on more than one at a time.
Musically, the arrangements on the album may sound deceptively simple on first listen. The way she adds ethereal keyboards and a melodic guitar line atop the buzzing, repetitive riffs on opening track (after the intro, anyway) “Eternal Wheels of Life,” however, makes it clear that she’s far more interested in creating textures than stacking riffs. Even the single arpeggio that runs through the majority of “Condemned to Death” is cloaked in enough hiss and other noise that unless you’re listening closely you might not notice that the song doesn’t really have any changes.
The highlight of The Shadow, though, is “Before the New Dawn Comes,” which we’re thrilled to be premiering below. A slight departure from the rest of the record, there’s a tribal element to the drums and a dramatic tinge to some of the clean vocals that feels similar in spirit (though not necessarily sound) to what industrial goths My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult were doing on Confessions of a Knife. There’s definitely an element of seduction in the song—because, of course, evil is nothing if not seductive. Yet even as those clean vocals draw you in, her screams are lurking just beneath the surface, waiting to burst through. There’s no telling which of those voices represent the song’s true nature, but by the time they join together near the song’s climax to declare “I am God” it scarcely matters anymore – it’s already too late to try to escape.
The Shadow will be available on December 1 via Iron Bonehead.
Clayton T. Michaels (Senior Editor) is a mild-mannered college English teacher by day, and a craft beer drinking, black metal and grindcore loving misanthrope by night. He’s also an award-winning poet and rabid Red Sox fan. Send him your promos at [email protected] You can also find him posting pictures of black metal cassettes and beer can labels on Instagram as @ironhops.