WORDS: Tim Redman
UK Black Metal is a scene of growing renown within the international underground. Drawing on their heritage and folk law traditions rather than the oft used and overdone satanic themes that dominated the genre’s early years these bands have been making names for themselves. Alongside the big names such as WINTERFYLLETH are the smaller bands plugging away. One such band is SPEIRLING who have recently reissued their debut album, The Piper, on Ulthar Records.
The album begins with Tempest of Truth and a harsh almost militaristic drumbeat over spoken vocals. This continues throughout its short length with the vocals becoming growls and the guitar laid over the top. Filthy and Cold is the second track here and inspiration for it clearly comes from the early days of Black Metal with a riff and production value that wouldn’t have been out of place then. Nothing original but not bad either. Wrath of the Wild continues in a much similar vein until its middle section where the entire approach is dropped back and a synth takes over. The remainder of the track is closer to the rest of modern British Black Metal with clean choruses and atmospheric elements.
After the clean fade out of the previous track Three Shrill Notes comes in with more of the early feel, although some of the guitar riffs in the second half of the song wouldn’t be out of place on the records their peers are currently putting out. The World Breaks continues this with the first half of the track being pure BURZUM worship and the second half being a tribute to WINTERFYLLETH. These elements do work together, although fans of either style will have heard them before. Into the Blazing Abyss is an ambient track with a reasonable amount of atmosphere but which doesn’t really go anywhere or make the listener feel anything. Born Again Dammed is the closing track of the album and the longest on offer here. The song captures the feeling offered by the entire atmosphere, with a section of all of the elements that make up The Piper included in it.
SPEIRLING’s debut effort is by no means bad. The main problem it suffers from is that all of the elements that make it up have been done elsewhere, and unfortunately better. Raw Black Metal has to be something special these days, as does the British style of atmospheric material. While The Piper is not a bad effort, it falls short when compared to anything else in either of these genre’s and its mismatched efforts to make them work together are hit and miss. Not bad, but not good either.
The Piper is set for re-release on April 1st via Ulthar Records.