I’ve recently found myself wanting the audio equivalent of returning home after a long week travelling for work; of a sense of familiarity and belonging, after an extended period of isolation and disconnect. Fire of the Spirit has been meeting that need perfectly, with Twilight Fauna‘s brand of black metal and traditional folk producing a warm, all-encompassing atmosphere that is remarkably refreshing for the soul.
Following on from the first ten of my A-Z 2017 favourites, here is the second part. As the title says, this is my favourites – not necessarily the best records of the year, but the ones I enjoy or connected with the most. Feel free to tell me what I missed, why I’m wrong, or whatever else. There’s only so many hours in the day, and not all of them can be spent listening to records, sadly.
Following on from Part I, which can be read here, here is the second installment of my favourite releases from this year; still in alphabetical order, and still full of awesome, wonderfully diverse music. The top five will follow soon, along with a few other reflections on the past year. But in the meantime, enjoy!
There’s no point getting hung up on genres. As useful as they can be, they’re really just arbitrary tags, with very little agreement on what actually defines a particular genre. This is especially true of the broad church that is black metal. As such, whether we class Twilight Fauna as black metal or not really shouldn’t matter. There are arguments to be made either way; the music of the one-man act is certainly heavy on haunting, lonely atmospheres which are a key part of black metal. But at the same time, the folk influence on Twilight Fauna’s music is readily apparent, and never more so than on Fire Of The Spirit. The six tracks on the album are ethereal constructs, built more on atmosphere than anything solid, and anyone who associates black metal with violence and noise may well be left disappointed. But those of us who look to the genre to provide something deeper, something that goes beyond mere music, will not be left wanting. This is an album where atmosphere is king; and what a powerful atmosphere it creates.
Following on from parts one and two, here is part three of four in my A-Z 2015 favourites. The same disclaimer applies – these are favourites, not a “best of” list. It’s impossible to keep up with everything that’s released, never mind give it all a fair listen and assessment, but it’s certainly fair to say that, of all the things I’ve heard this year, the records on these lists are what I enjoyed (or not, depending on what the music aims for) the most.
One of the best things about split releases is that they can help you see how musically diverse artists are connected. The atmosphere and emotion conjured, even if done through different means, can be such that placing two acts from different genres together can make perfect sense. Such is the case with this split 7″ between Twilight Fauna and Jennifer Christensen. Musically, there is a vast difference between them, with Twilight Fauna excelling at creating atmospheric black metal, whilst Jennifer Christensen is a mutli-instrumentalist who here offers something close to classical musical. But despite these sonic differences, both acts hit similar emotional notes, ensuring that this split is both diverse in sound but cohesive in feel, and is all the better for it.
Few subgenres in metal are more closely entwined with their place of origin than black metal. Those early second-wave Scandinavian acts often defined themselves largely by home nation, and they are far from the only movements to take such strong inspiration from their ancestry. Cascadian black metal and Métal Noir Québécois are more recent examples of how geography and sound can be so inseperable, and Shadows of Ancestors, the tenth release by one-man band Twilight Fauna, fits in with this paradigm. Intimately linked with Appalachian folk music, drenched in atmosphere and panoramic in scope, Shadows of Ancestors is true to the forest-dwelling spirit of black metal, whilst paying homage to those who came before.