There’s a cause people have worshipped nature all through historical past. The pure world has an attract and an influence that many can recognize, whether or not or not they attribute divinity to it. On the Altar of the Horned God takes the extra worshipful tone, conducting their second ceremony of reverence via deeply atmospheric, folk-tinged, experimental black metallic. Whereas the earlier ceremony By way of Doorways of Moonlight was an intense, ecstatic affair of a soul touched immediately by divinity, Coronary heart of Silence’s religious episode is a bit more ritualistic, a tad subtler, and darker. Simply as that oddly charming artwork implies, it is a nighttime ritual, and the music’s melancholy, and echoing presence cements this as we tread deeper into the darkish forest to name on the woodland gods. And whereas the pious protagonist would possibly stand alone amongst the beating drums and eerie refrains, the listener shouldn’t be deserted to any abrasive obscurity of what ‘avant-garde’ would possibly indicate. With a melodic attract, Coronary heart of Silence is but extra accessible than AtAotHG’s earlier work, and maybe nonetheless extra mysteriously engrossing.
On the forefront of the music is the ritual environment, led by way of djembe—a type of hand-played drum—tambourines, and haunting chants that create hypnotic rhythms. Usually Heolstor will layer his vocals in choruses of harmonizing or dissonant croons and snarls. Darkish atmosphere shrouds a lot of the blackened tremolo choosing and rasping snarls, permitting it to tackle a dreamlike ethereality. If synths aren’t changing guitar for lead melody, they’re wavering musingly within the background. When issues do take a extra overtly black metallic flip, it’s nearly jarringly stark and sharp towards the midnight glow of the remainder, however the rawness serves a goal. Even the duvet of Suicide Commando’s “God is within the Rain” matches brilliantly as one other step within the unusual ritual. And as completely different hymns and incantations these—on paper—disparate types of atmospheric black metallic and people and digital soften collectively into an odd unity.
Coronary heart of Silence is the type of odd that’s compelling and satisfying, and from the primary monitor instructions you to “Hear.” With percussion offering a tribalistic heartbeat of frenzied dancing (“Hear,” title monitor) or solemn profundity (“Closing Circle,” “Chthonic Summoning,” “Guardian of the Threshold”)—all the time with both a refined or overt taste of ceremony because of the hand-played devices—the music feels intense regardless of the tempo. And the eerie chanting, moaning vocals (title monitor, “Chthonic Summoning,” “Severing Mild”) can be fairly fascinating in a sudden lamenting readability (“Severing Mild”). Likewise, the reverberating growls and snarls tackle a forceful persuasiveness as they repeat a mysterious incantation (“Hear,” “Chthonic Summoning,” “Severing Mild”), and have a warped intrigue after they tackle a extra abrasively percussive cloudedness (“Anointed with Fireplace”). There are moments of bizarre magnificence amidst all of it, too, which are likely to happen proper on the crossroads of darkish ambient, people, and black metallic. The dense, ominous bass of “Chthonic Summoning” and “Severing Mild”, paired with the previous’s intensifying blackened hymnic chorus and the latter’s unusual harmonized cleans and washes of warped tremolo—full with mournful solo—are chilling, and bewitching.
Not all the pieces carries fairly the identical magic, although. Beside the strange litanies that fill the album, “Guardian of the Threshold” and “Anointed with Fireplace” stand out because the weakest of their relative straightforwardness. The previous’s dungeon-synth method is just too anodyne, and too protected, to influence, whereas the latter’s energetic tremolo-led rawness shouldn’t be generic, however it’s least comparatively plain. These are small items of the entire, and don’t overly mar what’s total intriguing and distinctive. It’s bizarre, however AtAotHG is aware of what melody is, and find out how to wind it into stirring themes; and what rhythm is, and find out how to maintain the listener compulsively tapping alongside. And when these halfway (“Chthonic Summoning”) and remaining (“Severing Mild”) excessive factors come up, they’re like the strain and ensuing catharsis of the ceremony we’ve grow to be part of.
With Coronary heart of Silence, AtAotHG has retained their darkish and charming idiosyncrasy, however concurrently sharpened their focus, and elevated their accessibility. That is one thing particular that ought to communicate to followers of the folky, the ambient, and the blackened alike.
Score: Very Good
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: I, Voidhanger Information
Web site: fb.com/atthealtarofthehornedgod
Releases Worldwide: March third, 2023