Friday, September 23, 2011

The Flight of Sleipnir: Essence of Nine (2011)


The Flight of Sleipnir came to my attention because their split with Apostle of Solitude and Rituals of the Oak was reviewed in Decibel. The combination of folk music and doom metal, though obvious, has rarely been done. So, I decided to check out their third full-length, Essence of Nine.

The opening riff sounds like The Gates of Slumber, but don't let that fool you. Very little of the rest of the album fits the trad-doom mold. Black metal rasps, clean singing, folk melodies and harmonies, and the overall mellow mood of the album set it apart. The end result has more in common with Agalloch than any of their brothers in doom.

In fact, there are similarities to Agalloch beyond just the mood. Both vocal styles are found in Agalloch's output, and the guitar tone is of the same breed. But more importantly, the production has a high-quality, intimate live performance aesthetic, just like Marrow of the Spirit. That should be a profound selling point to anyone, as it splits the difference between lo-fi and modern production enthusiasts exactly where it should be (at least for this type of music).

Beyond that, the American folk music in a metal context always makes me think of Baroness, and this is no exception. The songwriting is mostly about mood, but there are some memorable riffs, and the highlight of the album ("Nine Worlds") is a suitably epic climax to an album that takes you on a journey that doesn't drag on longer than it's wanted.

The Verdict: Essence of Nine is a perfectly-produced and compelling album that's unique enough, and should appeal to fans of Agalloch without alienating too many doom enthusiasts. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

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