Bhleg - Äril review

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Band: Bhleg
Album: Äril
Release date: September 2019

01. Vittra Och Dö
02. Från Eld Till Aska
03. Skördetid

Some people are blessed with immediate success. Others have to put in more time and effort before obtaining that elusive sense of satisfaction. After this release, Bhleg has climbed slightly higher on the ladder. But how much further do they have to go?

It was back in the early months of 2018 when Solarmegin saw the light of day, a massive double-disc undertaking that covered the vast expanse of folk-infused black metal, with its acoustic guitar work and choir-like chanting adding some levity and poignancy, but it overstayed its welcome and felt entirely repetitive towards the end due to the construction of songs focusing so much on buildup and so little on payoff, you left with the aural equivalent of blue balls. Even its markedly improved production wasn't enough to distract from its lack of closure, resulting in what comes across as an exhaustive 100-minute folk-ish black metal lecture.

Äril, on the other hand, does away with those trivialities and aims to break down the inconclusive songwriting aspect of previous material. Beginning with a bittersweet 14-minute homage to black metal's melodic founding fathers, incorporating the tried-and-trve styling of early Ulver or Agalloch or whatever other folk black metal band you can think of, the abundance of harrowing clean chants and somber dissonance doesn't play out particularly differently from any other release in this vein. That said, there is a taste of individuality here beneath the murky production and splashes of violin that hearken back to the repetitive, stripped down, minimalist style of black metal's earliest instances of experimenting outside the genre's confines. And with only three tracks spanning just under 30 minutes, it comes as a pleasant surprise that despite following an obvious formula, each song presents enough variation in form to stand out from one another.

That's it for the positives, however. Writing separate-but-similar songs and paying overt levels of homage to more renowned bands of the past isn't enough to grab listeners these days -- not with the sheer volume of content at our disposal. There needs to be an "it" factor of sorts, and while befitting of the saturated Cascadian black metal movement, Äril suffers from a lack of staying power. Whereas its predecessor was unforgettable in a burdensome sense, this becomes forgettable due to there simply just not being enough material to hold on to. It comes and goes so quickly without expanding on the few repetitive melodies, making for an enjoyable experience in the moment, but entirely unremarkable in the end. It does lend hope for anyone expecting big things in the band's future though, as they've shown signs of progress with each successive release, meaning their next full-length should be one to write home about if the pattern continues.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 7
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 4
Production: 7


Written on 22.10.2019 by Just another opinionated guy telling you what to listen to.

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