I first heard about Seidr via Austin Lunn’s one man pagan-anarcho black metal (a term used by the man himself, not just some madness I made up. Honest), band Panopticon (which is brilliant, check it out). Seidr is one of many side projects that Lunn has on the boil. How he finds the time to do this and record as prolifically as he does for Panopticon, I’ll never know.
1. A Vision From Hlidskjalf
2. On The Shoulder Of The Gods
4. In The Ashes
5. The Night Sky And The Wild Hunt
6. A Gaze At The Stars
7. Stream Keeper
Deep down, For Winter Fire is a doom record. Further down, it’s a record that deals with nature, the elements, life and death. This is a release steeped in Norse mythology, something I think is close to the heart of the band, and judging by some track names on Panopticon records, definitely a huge influence on Lunn.
The band also features a member of Wheels Within Wheels. The only thing I’ve heard by them is part of a split with Panopticon, , and Crow (the artist in question) is the a perfect addition to the recording. A lot of bands within this “scene” feel a great affinity for nature, and this side of the album really ties in with their personal beliefs.
The first track opens up with a two-minute long intro featuring braying horns, beautiful drum work and what sounds like some kind of woodwind instrument. It leads you in to a crushing vocal quite expertly, you know it’s going to hit but when it does you’re still taken aback. It’s an album you have to really sit down with, there’s so much to take in here. Multiple listens will certainly reap rewards. There’s depth, there’s thought and opinions. It’s slow, and the seventy-three minute running time covers only seven tracks, but you never feel as though any of that time is wasted. It’s heavy in all the right places. Slow when you need it to be. Five and a half minutes in, there’s a gorgeous choral vocal line. The music has completely slowed down, then it gradually builds back up, throwing you straight into punishing guitar tone and a deep guttural growl. It’s a magnificent first song, eleven minutes long but you never want it to end.
But end it must. On The Shoulder Of The Gods comes next. Again taking a good few minutes to really get going. It begins with sounds of feedback, disjointed chords and after four minutes things start to come together. On their Facebook page, Seidr themselves say, “…sometimes it takes a long time to say something worth saying.” It’s an excellent way of putting it, much more exact than I can ever hope of getting across. If you’re patient, you’ll really get something out of this album.
Sweltering is the third track. Heavy as all hell,featuring pummeling riffs and drum work. Then six minutes in there’s the fading screams of “…let the rain fall” and a sample of breaking thunder and the subsequent downpour. The guitar becomes quiet, the cymbals rolling in the background, the rain falling. It’s gorgeous. The guitar reminiscent of some shoegaze/post-rock style bands I’ve mentioned in previous posts and not at all the doomy riffs you’d expect (don’t worry, it’s absolute perfection). Ten minutes, and the deepest, darkest vocal breaks. Completely at odds with the music you just heard. Wrenched from the very bottom of the soul. UGH.
On first listen, In The Ashes really reminded me of a track by Panopticon called …speaking… Not so much the sound, but the feel of the song, which is exceptionally sad. …speaking… is a beautiful composition. Beginning with shimmering guitar lines, minimal drums and an all round sense of profound melancholy. As with Seidr, it’s fairly long and the initial introduction to the song takes it’s time to build and draw you in completely. And In The Ashes certainly draws you in. The acoustic guitar is captivating, the vocal being sung rather than bellowed. It’s sad, essentially a diatribe on the destruction of nature and likened to the burning out of fire. Shorter than most tracks here, it seems like a natural break in the album. Three tracks of such intensity came before, you need this moment in order to take in everything heard.
The Night Sky And The Wild Hunt snaps you back into a place of such heaviness, and using instruments that you wouldn’t even associate with metal, but Seidr are a band unafraid to push boundaries. They’re a band with such obvious love for the genre, yet also with the knowledge that it’s all been done before, and clearly want to do new and exciting things. For Winter Fire is definitely the album to do that. It’s an impressive debut, forged by artists who outside of this band, play in wildly different projects.
The album closes with A Gaze At The Stars and Stream Keeper. The latter being a fourteen minute behemoth of a track. Opening with those shimmery guitars and a barely there drum beat; much like In The Ashes it’s downcast and driven by an intense melancholy. When the vocal kicks in…blimey. Now this, this is doom. Slow, heavy, processional, sharing much in common with say, Katatonia, early Anathema and the most excellent Warning. Around eight minutes, the tempo changes slightly. Not a huge amount, but noticeably enough for your head to start nodding to a different beat. It’s glorious. The closing few minutes feature piano, adding to the atmosphere already built up in the song, lending it once again an air of despondency. It ends on the fuzzy notes of electronic feedback and the sense that you just heard the first of many entries in the story this band needs to tell.
In The Ashes. Because it’s stunning.
Buy things here: http://theflenser.com/