There are certain record labels that end up becoming synonymous with certain styles of music. Sometimes those associations are fair, like Unique Leader and slick modern tech death, or Ripple and stoner rock. Sometimes they’re a bit of an oversimplification, like Dark Descent and old-school/cavernous death metal.
Whenever I hear the names Nordivs Produktion or Bindrune Recordings, I automatically think of either atmospheric black metal in the vein of Panphage or Skogen or folk/black metal a la Panopticon or Nechochwen. I’m guessing I’m not the only one, either. My introduction to Bindrune came via Blood of the Black Owl, but I can’t say I truly became a devotee of the label until the Falls of Rauros/Panopticon Brotherhood split in 2014. Since then, I’ve made it a point to check out basically everything they’ve released, the lion’s share of which has fallen into either the atmospheric or folk/black categories – but not all of it.
Case in point: their forthcoming Eneferens album, In the Hours Beneath. The solo project of multi-instrumentalist Jori Apedaile, the album, which he originally released independently in December of last year, certainly has a fair amount of black metal in its DNA. But contrary to what it might say on Metal Archives, it would be reductive to refer to Eneferens as just an atmospheric black metal band. There’s just as much (if not more) of Patrick Walker’s emotive doom, and several moments that bring to mind Alcest at their most shoegazey.
The album opens with the gorgeous “Morning,” a somber track dominated by mellow, reverb-drenched guitar and clean vocals. In fact, the first heavy riff doesn’t come in until the final minute of the seven-plus minute track. “Chrysanthemum” opens with a riff that brings to mind more recent Katatonia, but he pairs it with a growled vocal which continues over into the first sustained bit of black metal riffing on the record. That aggressiveness carries over into the Cascadian-sounding opening riff of “Through the White,” but as with the rest of the record, the track cycles through several more styles as well, including a couple of nice lead guitar breaks. Closer “Ascension” might be the moodiest track on the record, verging on mid-period Opeth territory with the sheer number and variety of stylistic changes he employs throughout its twelve-minute run time.
The highlight of the record, though, is easily “Refuge.” Apedaile pulls some killer melodic death/doom out of his bag of riffs, but he also pulls out some of his most ephemeral riffs and fragile-sounding clean vocals, including a very Neige-esque falsetto. The riff that closes out the track might be the most emotive on the record, and leads perfectly into the short piano interlude “Upon the Black Mountain.”
All told, In the Hours Beneath hits a lot of my sweet spots: it’s melodic, it’s aggressive, and it’s also more than a little bit sad. There’s also enough variety from track to track that it sounds fresh throughout the entirety of its 43-minute run time. It may not be atmospheric black metal, but it’s highly recommended all the same.
In the Hours Beneath will be available on October 27 via Bindrune Recordings.