Review: As black metal wound down in the mid-1990s, some musicians wanted the spirit to live on, and realizing that the surface elements of black metal would rapidly be cloned, they transitions to new styles that generally went to black metal's deepest non-metal influences: ambient music and soundtracks. With artists like Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk the admitted influences on artists like Darkthrone, Burzum and Celtic Frost, the pathway had a firm foundation but no voice. Replacing the surfacing of black metal would take additional generations going on behind the scenes.
1. Windstory of Old Ghost
2. War Song
3. Song Like Wind
4. Going to War
5. Signal for Fight
6. Prolog - Sword for Son
7. Father's Sword
8. Only Your Spirit will Return
9. Pagan Holocaust
10. Funeral Song
11. Arianrod Heil!
For those familiar with later Lord Wind -- a hybrid of synthpop, neofolk, "Conan the Barbarian" soundtracks and the epic gothic medievalist music of Dead Can Dance -- the earliest effort from this band may seem confused in style. Borrowing much from the contemporary Graveland release Following the Voice of Blood, the first Lord Wind album uses undistorted guitars under moaning, strangled vocals with an ear for medieval and baroque melody as if adapted into a folk song. This ambitious approach falls short on this album because having both the epic grandeur of metal and its post-human focus as well as using metal instrumentation both excludes anything but rock or folk-styled vocals, and limits the music to one dominant melodic voice if monotone vocals are used.
Forgotten Songs uses martial drums to guide its guitar melodies but does not fill the space it sets out to and so ends up being repetitive, and as the songwriter reacted to this and became unsure of how to flesh it out, confused, more like the sparse but hollow Immortal Pride from Graveland in the same year of this release. Similar to the folk stylings of neofolk but without the punk-influenced energies or attempts to pander to the individual, this album barely manages to hold on to what makes metal "metal," which is a perspective that rotates away from the individual to a landscape in which ideas and demographics collide.
Simple melodies that show the influence of folk songs in the Celtic and Slavonic traditions, many relying on downward arpeggiation, cycle past but fail to connect to a larger songwriting framework, so the music sounds fragmentary and lost. The groaning, gurgling vocals occur almost independently, and wind noises and periodic martial-industrial influences filter through, but cannot bolster the inability of this album to meld style and content. It's probably best to focus on later Lord Wind works for the completion of this idea through the use of multiple melodic voices and, through layers and more complex song structures, the fulfilment of its promise.
Production: Spacious digitalia.
Review: At the lightening of sky to blue the first torch is lit and put to the ship, which is harnessed to the horses and whipped to ride with deathfaces above through the primal darkness, sending seagulls and ground creatures scattering in the wilding disintegration into what remains of the ancient forest fringed by shattered metal and waste of a civilization decomposing the core of atoms with its greed. Flames whiten the leaves and galloping hooves pound mud into tiny castles as the world is left behind and a spirit departs to eternity, leaving survivors alone to cope with the growing sameness and aging of the world in hopelessness. As a memory and encouragement of the epic spirit of pagan Europe the musician behind Graveland offers a symphonic arrangement of synthesized instruments and vocal samples in neoclassical aestheticism in a Wagnerian literalism with ideological intent.
1. Gifts of Gods (8:28)
2. Fighting Till Death (7:07)
3. Hail To Gods of Victory (6:26)
4. Mystery (4:23)
5. Heralds of Reborn Honour (6:25)
6. Today Love Tomorrow Death (3:54)
7. Without Mercy & Forgiveness (9:41)
8. Gates of Valhalla (9:45)
9. Dark Forges of Hades (6:35)
Underneath that functional cloaking is much the same of what made Graveland great: epic, lengthy melodies unfolding into nearly-ecclesiastical tone-centric phrases looping as textures shift to give context to radical destruction and change. Its themes are grand and mideval but its message of complexity arising from simplicity is clear: in a technological age, the hierarchy of elites has shifted from those who have skills to those who have conceptual skills. Concepts emerge over repetition of several major themes throughout the work, showing a fluid connection between passages of music in a language of recombinant moods. Formed from passages of combined mood-setting chorus work and mutating phrases which set up harmonic infrastructure, unfolding corridors of implied melodic continuity lead the listener through a hallucinogenic, epic, battle of abstract themes.
The spirit in these melodies is that of reversal and release, in the context of a mood ringing with grim determination for finality and loss. Its concept of grandeur consists of natural and simple patternings arranged across a scalar pattern to form resonance around vital tones of a central melody. Iterative constructions of similar melodies, and cross-evoked themes between pieces, present a foundational resonance for the literature that builts metaphor and sound into atmospheric enclave of thought, in which freedom for the soul is possible and warfare to resurrect ancient values seems inevitable. Some reviewers have reported thinking intensely of trees, arrayed in forests around an earth free of human domination, upon repeated listening.
The conflict of hope and structure over the illogical and entropic creates a journey of a universal character who more than evading obstacles evolves to make them obsolete, a twisting tribute to permutation within nature and human consciousness inspiring an aesthetic of majesty in conflict and determination toward resolution. The ancient and the modern meet in this focused pulsing of ambient sound which demonstrates its ideals in connection with the primal desire in any human being for something great and enduringly brave, bold and honest in its values.
Production: Spotless digital studio shine.
Review: Continuing the process of assimilating a new style derived from the values of the old, Lord Wind in this second release summarize the melodies of their first two works, as well as presaging what will come, and experiment with greater variation in instrumental so it more approximates the epic movie soundtracks that partially inspired this band. Melding the epic aspects of metal and movie soundtracks with the folkish melodies of neofolk, the listenability of synthpop, and the medievalist aesthetic of Dead Can Dance, Lord Wind create music in which to lose your sense of place and time.
Exhibiting a more Celtic flair to many melodies on this incarnation, which restates past themes and uses patterns universal to folk music which give it a repetitive outlook, this music like the writing of ancient philosophers and historians uses "ring composition," where it refers to itself and in each iteration of that self-reference augments the pattern, creating a final product like a ball of string that picks up its wandering phrases and re-integrates them into a dominant form. Much as its composition recurses, so does the progress between Lord Wind albums, with each new one picking up what has been done before and developing it further. This composer staggers his releases between assessment releases, where he tries out new styles, and completion releases, where he is able to match form and content and so produces his best work.
On this assessment release, music quality is good, but melodies are indistinct and often incomplete compared to the simpler but more effective Heralds of Fight. Sometimes using transitions like a death metal band, where texture and tempo and riff change at once, Lord Wind introduces new phrases with new keyboard voices, and tries for more "fills" between substantial melodic fragments, which creates more of a soundtrack atmosphere but, like soundtracks, makes this sound more pasted-together than its volkisch aesthetic would like it to be. Long songs develop slowly and often wander, at which point instrumental transition completes the drift. What this release will be remembered for most is setting the stage for the next Lord Wind, which completes this assessment into a masterpiece.
Review: Modern society perpetuates itself by a desire to divide, and subdivide, for the efficiency of tasks that take into account a result and not their impact on the whole; ancient society strove to discover syncretic principles, or ways of making everything make sense at once in a form of abstract harmony; Lord Wind represents Rob Darken rising from heavy metal music, which with its deconstructed aesthetic too frequently divides, into a fully syncretic expression that unites form and content with melody in what has been his mission from 1998-2008 with second-wave Graveland.
1. Atlantean Monument (2:05)
2. The Temple of Harmony (7:14)
3. Valleys of Forgotten Tombs (6:43)
4. Shining Eyes of Misty Witch (4:34)
5. Rain Healing the Wounds (7:57)
6. Secret Key to Hidden Wisdom (10:24)
7. Summoning the Wind (7:43)
8. Flame of Ancient Glory (8:45)
9. Tower of Cult of Fire (5:08)
10. Garden of the Wizards (4:37)
11. The Temple of Sun (5:38)
12. Field of Broken Swords (4:40)
His technique combines the modern fascination with layers, or repeated complimentary patterns started at different times, and the ancient concept of recursion, where each repetition participates in the re-uptake of information from its context, finally forming a synthesis. While these songs do not follow classical or baroque structures necessarily, they give them the nod through the use of narrative composition in this sort, where a starting point creates a journey with many looping structures re-infusing the seemingly incidental details into the heart of an ongoing, heuristic syncretic melody.
Unlike any other music made in the remnants of the genre, "Atlantean Monument" captures the dreamlike essence of black metal, where the imagination of the individual fuses with their perceptual capabilities, creating a mystical ability to see the world not only as it is but what it can be through its significance and structure. Its goal of sonambulistic, unconscious beauty occurs in this joyful grey area outside of science or dogma, where like the small hours of the night we must confront not logical decisions but the aching existential query of what we desire from life itself. This album captures the ancient atmosphere of neo-folk without the cheese and polarization, the "awakening the fantasy of mortals" of black metal, and the hopeful resurgent faith in trusting the heart to balance the head that comes from epic synthpop like Kraftwerk or Wolfsheim.
Multiple keyboard voices establish melodies while subdued electronic percussion, taking strongly after Dead Can Dance, buoyantly anchors frame of time reference in the background; additional instruments come in layers that first accentuate a phrase and then turn contrary, but are slowly re-assimilated. Unlike modern music, songs do not peak and then decline, but weave an anticipation into their passage, so they more resemble a conversation between old friends than an argument; they emerge like primordial memory or dream and transfigure the world around them in a subtle assault on the seemingly religious imperviousness of symbol. Many of these melodies are recognizable as developments of fragments from the past ten years of Graveland, but here, like the style and content of those years, they find full fruition in the album that probably will endure more than any other Rob Darken work.