I don’t always know how to describe an album when I start writing a review. Darkher makes music that is quite abstract and ever so slightly outside the grasp of reality, or maybe the music is about a reality that we often cannot grasp easily. I’m not sure. The new album is called The Buried Storm and it releases on April 15th.
Darkher comes to us from the UK, and can refer to either Jayn Maiven, the founding member, or to the band as a whole. Jayn handles vocals, guitar, and bass, while Christopher Smith handles drums. Guest spots include: Arianna Mahsayeh on cello, Melanie Chaplin on cello, Lambert Segura on violin, Ludvig Swärd on cello and backing vocals, and Daniel Land on backing vocals and guitar.
Two thousand sixteen saw the release of the debut full-length album from Darkher. To this day, it is a dark and evocative work that delights itself in vocal hooks as much as it savors the shadows. I love that album. The Buried Storm is structured a little differently. This album plays as one long piece, whether it is meant to or not. The music is cautious and introverted with hovering cellos and violins making up a great portion of the sound, along with acoustic guitar. This, however, makes the rush of metallic riffs in a few segments all the more effective, in my view. Yes, this is a spacious, gloomy, flickering doom album of mood and memory, and it revels in those things vibrantly.
There is something potently Romantic here, though. This music feels recorded upon the scrolls of time, buried in the seas of remembrance, and permeated with hidden emotions. While the album is reserved and spacey for the most part, it never comes across as dull or lacking. How did Jayn craft an album with a candlelit atmosphere, but that also feels like rushing tides and amniotic emotion? I’m not sure. One thing is for sure, this album is a haunting and visionary experience.
Trying to pull out favorite moments is something of a fool’s errand here. As I mentioned, the album plays like one long epic. An example of this is the way the first three tracks blend seamlessly. The opener “Siren’s Nocturne” is a rising and quietly powerful introduction that establishes the haunting atmosphere, but it spills directly into “Lowly Weep”, a gorgeous song with intimate vocals and strings that hover within your very soul. I love the clarity and closeness of the strings. This song transitions into a sweeping deluge of gentle doom metal that is spicy and beautiful, but then itself spills into “Unbound”, a mostly acoustic piece that could be called a ballad. This trio spills into the rest of the album, as well, creating a river of spirit and nightfall.
Some other highlights come in “Where the Devil Waits” and “Love’s Sudden Death”. These two tracks feel one in my mind, as the former floats with ominous feeling before crashing into the low brashness of the latter, complete with stumbling drums and a steely guitar tone. Taken as one song, they really complement each other.
My favorite portion of the album comes in the last three songs. “The Seas” is cinematic and soothing with relatable vocals and quivering cello lingering within foamy feelings. It flows into “Immortals”, a bold song with a lumbering beat. It probably has the most metal sound on the album, and it feels like it really means something based on where it is placed in the album. The closer, “Fear Not, My King”, is one of my favorite songs on the album. I love how ghostly and chamber-esque it feels in execution, even as the song is quite abstract and strange. I love how gritty the guitars feel and how nervous the strings surrounding it are. It’s just a great ending that purposefully doesn’t soothe your worries. It’s brilliant.
Darkher seemingly has a wealth of personality, and I love how she gives us a window into that without showing too much. The Buried Storm is exactly that: a nuanced and tender look at some scary emotions without becoming too much, without making us feel unsettled or unnerved by the experience. And at about 40 minutes in length, the album is the perfect serving, completely free of pretention or filler. I can only imagine how amazing and hypnotic this will sound in a live setting. Maybe I’ll get the chance to see that one day.
Find Darkher online: