If you’re not familiar with Moulderyawn’s impressive debut album From Whence the Woods, you’re making a mistake. After two long years, Moulderyawn has returned to follow up their impressive debut with an equally impressive EP, Wiltress (Queen of Flowers). It’s not hard to be a good atmospheric black metal band, but the scarcity of bands who can claim to be Moulderyawn’s equals demonstrates how hard it is to be a truly great atmospheric black metal band. Moulderyawn possesses that certain “je ne sais quoi” that elevates them above the average one-man black metal band. There’s a certain mood that exists within Moulderyawn’s music that is very tough to describe.
This mood is due in no small part to the band’s use of ambient synthesizers. In fact, the first song of the EP is an entirely ambient piece titled “Becoming Lost in the Garden.” It’s a misty-eyed, sentimental piece that lures listeners into a calm, relaxed state. It’s a sad piece, but there’s also a distinct playfulness about it as well, as if it were the soundtrack to a happy memory only half-remembered. Being under four minutes in length, it serves more as an intro to the album’s eponymous second song, but its otherworldly atmosphere allows it to stand on its own.
The title track introduces traditional black metal guitars and vocals, though it still retains the dreamy synthesizers. The term “eerily inviting” may seem an oxymoron, but I defy listeners to coin a better term for the music on offer. Over its near-nine minute run time, the song covers many moods, both light and dark with grace and aplomb. The vocal performance is one of the EP’s most endearing features. C. Aldersop, the band’s mastermind, hisses and snarls behind several layers of static, as if you’re listening to him on an old gramophone, from the other side of a wall. The vocals are very faint and distant, almost as if you could crest the next hill and catch a glimpse of some woodland spirit, murmuring mysterious verses to themself.
This is a band to watch out for in the future. Moulderyawn’s music is the sound of vintage portraits, fuzzy photographs, old architecture, creeping vines, fading childhood memories and houses with plain white walls. Perhaps it’s an odd parallel to draw, but Wiltress sounds very much like the cover to Opeth’s Morningrise looks. This is an EP that must be felt, as well as heard. Moulderyawn stand tall amongst their black metal peers, illuminating new paths through the darkened woods of black metal, and I find it very easy to imagine imitation acts popping up in the coming years. If you enjoy powerful, emotive atmospheric black metal, grab a pair of headphones, pop on Wiltress, and prepare to wander in the garden eternally.
You can purchase Wiltress (Queen of Flowers) from Moulderyawn’s Bandcamp page.