As I stand facing out from the Ogof I inhabited during my last review of Pembrokeshire blackened legend Revenant Marquis and his final album “All The Pleasures Of Heaven” I ready myself to leave inhaling that coastal air and stare out at the grey sky, blackened ocean on this cool grey Autumn day.
I check my persons for my belongings, parchment, pen, headphones tobacco. As I step from the rocky incline of the Ogof my phone Chimes. As I remove it from my heavy worn robes I notice it’s a message from my bosses at Death Prayer. As I scroll down the message reads “Stay where you are, we have another for you”. As I cast a cold glare around me I see not a soul. Another Chime rings and I have another file dropped. As I open it, it reads for your ears only. It is of course Crymych’s new album “Songs Of Sistrum”.
Crymych are of course another faction of the Pembrokeshire Black Circle and remain as much of a mystery as any other act that is also part of the same pact. Having previously reviewed the majority of their releases, a wry smile appears on my weather-beaten Skull. As I pick up the torch I venture deep back into the Ogof of whence I came. Back inside I walk to where I’d previously sat. I can hear the weather turning and the rain beats down hard at the opening of the cave. Water trickles down the walls and the wind howls through. As I huddle up and ready myself for their eagerly anticipated release my hunger grows for what I’m about to witness.
Track One “Sistrum Bliss” Now I know what you are all wondering and that is what is a Sistrum and what relevance to black metal does this have? Well, let me tell you. A Sistrum is a Sacred Ancient Egyptian instrument used in ancient Egyptian Cosmogony. In Egyptian the word used for the instrument is “sekhem” and “Sesheshet”. It is used in several ceremonies such as dances, worship and celebrations of the goddess Hathor who is the goddess of love and intimacy. There is so much history that surrounds this instrument I could go on for days. However, you are here for the review and as I dive deep into this album the titles and the history element will all become clear. “Sistrum Bliss” opens with a very long and drawn-out chord this provides the bass it almost represents chanting that low Gregorian monk style chanting like using a secondary pair of vocal chords.
A synth starts to add light notes and as the drums come in at random intervals it adds an almost welcoming of a new age, a new god. This track has a beautiful ambience to it and you get a feeling of bliss when listening to it. It almost puts you into a meditative state and gives you the feeling of ushering something deep into you. The drum crashes almost bring you out of that state of Bliss but that soft sound that still lingers keeps you hooked and wanting more. This isn’t the first time Crymych have dabbled nor thrown their proverbial hat in the ring using ambience within their tracks. Just take elements of their previous tracks and the entirety of the album “Du Bach”. What a way to enter and usher you into the concept of this album.
Track two “Sistrum” is where the real black metal action picks up. As the soft tones of the previous track open up this next one the light soon dissipates and as the screams come hurtling through my headphones followed by some stunning drum roles backed by some ready-to-rage guitars elevate this track the drumming gets progressively quicker and before you know it you are submerged into a thick, choking wall of sound and this ladies and gents is just the intro.
The light notes try to break through the ever-increasing darkness. As the second verse hits it is here we truly see some true darkness unfold. With rasping, viscous vocals from the main entity. It truly delves this track into the blackest of darkness. The drumming takes a more steady pace and the synth work even takes a more darker and deeper tone. That is not before the intro sound all comes crashing back in, those light notes trying to break through the sea of dissonance from the other instruments. Before sliding back into the darker element of the track once again. You can almost hear that the band may even be using a sistrum on here.
The sound of the brass washers beating against the wood body of the instrument coupled with crashing cymbals just adds a whisper of wind to the track without the use of overdubbing it with a sound effect. There is another instrument that lurks on this track in the darker sections and that’s the Bass. You can hear the low rumbling of the bass but also some fancy fretwork happening. These deep almost groove-laden bass lines are just popping in the background. As the 07:06 track comes to a climatic end the guitars are working harmoniously together neither one is fighting for supremacy. I can’t help but get chills as to how dark and brooding this track is without having to be dripped in freezing tremolo riffs and blast beats throughout. Once again Crymych create an atmosphere without even trying.
Track Three “Chimes Of The Mother” opens softly with a beautiful light synth work, the sound of static in the background creates an almost wind-like sensation like these notes are being carried on each breeze. This is such a soft opening, yet you are just waiting. No sooner said that the light section fades to give way for the darker and colder element to flow through. This dark and brooding track throbs and moves with a groove. Once again that bass is back and punching in the notes. It’s leading the drums and providing a pace of which the track chugs along too.
The guitars don’t make an appearance until just over two minute mark, but their playing isn’t all fast and gritty. The guitar sounds are very disjointed almost jazz-influenced and that could be said for the drumming too. The little canters of the instruments and the tight little fills certainly transcend this track. In places it almost has a climbing feel to it. The evolution of the music reaches peaks and troughs throughout creating a real variation in mood. Towards the end, it becomes quite dreamlike as the sound of the music slightly backtracks and some dark and brooding spoken word parts truly put a whole different spin on it. Those light dreamy sections fade into the darkness never to be heard again on this track.
Track Four “Dance” sees the guitars return however not like you would think. This has a much more folk element to it. The long drawn-out chords almost resemble the ringing of a sistrum instrument and the same level of timing between the longer chords. This is a short track at 01:40 but it is a beauty and love the almost euphoric sound the guitars carry. Such light chords and deep resonating notes fill your ears after such a dark ending to the previous one. As you can see from the title “Dance” you can get the feeling of appreciation for the research taken into this ancient instrument. That and you can imagine it appearing here so easily. However, using instruments to recreate it in places without having to be so literal as to have one on the track is a feat of genius.
Track Five “Chimes Of Our Father” is a whopping 11:48 as it comes in full of distortion and a very brooding sound the notes seem almost deeper and more ominous in their presence. Whereas “Chimes Of Our Mother” had those beautiful light notes interweaved into those darker fast sections, it is here that this is not the case at all. This is much more menacing and with hidden vocals that break through and remind you just what you listening to. There is an element of chase to this track. It’s like the father figure is chasing you to punish you. The cantering of the keys and drums together certainly gives that sound and knit together a pretty dark and oppressing track. The midsection is where it all changes and shifts the sound becomes almost a heroic one. Those deep dark chords are lifting and light ones are eeking through and allowing this track the light it needs. That being said the viscous vocals that spring through drag you back to the dark kicking and screaming. The chords on the keys progress and before where there was an element of light to them these now have an ominous shift into a much bleaker sound. So final and ending. The track takes one last shift towards the end. With a closing and abrupt drum role. The sound of industrial noise creeps up your neck and the venomous vocals are back almost calling you back to where you belong.
Track Six “Sistrum Close” takes us right back to the ambient side of this band’s multifaceted bow. While much darker than its counterparts opening this depicts both sides of the coin well. This bleaker-sounding ending gets right underneath you and takes you places most would fear to tread. It certainly retains a level of impending feeling. The light chords that break are trying to lighten the situation however they only make it more creepy. Then all of a sudden the vocals break through and act like an amazing jump scare in a movie. As I sit here writing I swear if I had skin I would’ve jumped right out of it. As this isn’t the case I can be comfortable in the knowledge that I haven’t left my body.
After that extreme punk-like breakthrough, the track reverts to a much slower and doom-embracing side of the band. Slow and grinding riffs backed by slow-pounded drums make the closing seem so introverted. This I like. It almost puts a more personal spin on it. The track comes to an end. The chords drift on through and some heinous vocals close out this struggling to retain a light track. Honestly, I loved the closing. It sucks you right back within and makes you feel so uneasy.
As I sit there watching the droplets of rain drip into a nearby pool of water, the Ash on my cigarette is long and most of it has gone unsmoked. I can’t help but think once again I’ve gotten lost again within yet another Crymych release. This is easily attained all the way through this album. They don’t right your average B.M. instead they manage to create their own and one that can lead you into some of the darkest and yet still some of the most amazing places. It’s hard to put your finger on this band and rightly so. They’re so aloof and far removed from the typical B.M. clan they have almost reformed and regenerated an art into their own. One that splits and decides the average fans. Will they go for a band like this over the sound of the norm of black metal? I of course have been a long-standing fan and the fact that I get the pleasure to work with and engage with them is just another bonus. They’re becoming pioneers some could even go as far as to say the “Orbital” of black metal.
Fusing the history of the instrument named in the title, their style of Ambience and black metal, it truly paints a vivid picture. One that you can get lost in with the melodies and the deep resonating chords. To have the feeling like they have the actual name of the instrument on every track and sounding different in a multitude of ways is just spellbinding and I for one am here for it. After my review, I just hope you are. As I pack up my belongings for a second time I lean against the wall I engraved with my name. As I ram my torch into the ground and roll a cigarette for my journey. I look out of the sea now looking like a pitch-black sheet of ice I lift my torch and light my cigarette. As I look at my phone before I journey back to make sure I won’t be needed here so soon. However, coming back and for these reasons is one I certainly can handle. Until again Pembrokeshire I’ll be seeing you.
Hails #foras #lordoftheshadows 🕯⛓️⚔️💀🥀