Spiritwood is a new band for me. There is very little about the band available online. The Facebook page paints a minimalist picture – no bio, no members listed, no band pictures. The band lists themselves as Finnish Occult Dooming Black Metal, while other places online refer to them as atmospheric black metal. After listening to this album almost daily for 2 weeks, I prefer the first label simply because it fits well. There is a lot of atmosphere, just not in the way many of us have come to associate with ABM. The keys are a focus of the album but not exaggerated to the point of being symphonic black metal either; nor is the music slow enough to delve deeper into blackened funeral doom territory. (One more note about their Facebook page, they post pictures of various artist noted for their morbid work like James William Carling and Zdzisław Beksiński. I recommend a look, you may find an artist you like).
The logo caught my attention, the name of the album doubly so. Well, what’s the music like? Please, allow my indulgent ass to paint a couple of pictures for you.
First, have you ever hiked in cold winter before the sun fully set and forgot to bring a flashlight? If so, you know what that hike back felt like. You could hear the woods coming alive while your inability to see what lurks in the shadows increased your frustration for forgetting supplies. At the same time, your anxiety tries to remind you to not get lost in your own shortcomings – shit gets real, really quick up in the mountains. A few moments later, you stop take a deep breath and take stock of all that you are surrounded by – beauty, nature, cold earth, the vastness above you and your insignificance as you marvel at the void of space.
Second, have you ever had a panic attack? If you have, you know you don’t control that shit. It comes, washes over you, and takes you for a shitty ride you want a refund on. While drowning in your adrenaline, perhaps you sequester your fleshy husk to a dark comfortable space. Maybe a hoodie, jacket, or blanket protects you and provides you with the necessary weight to give you moments to breathe and eventually control that breath.
This album is a lot like these two experiences – chaotic, unnerving, anxious, relentless, suffocating, haunting, lonely, with occasional moments of beauty melody.
The guitar tone is particularly effective here, providing a lot of the trance like dirge and drone that sucks you in before you’re fully aware of its pull. The drums are bombastic and ritualistic. The keyboards accentuate the album with most of the memorable melodies. Overall the keys create the bleak atmosphere that connects all songs in this recording. The vocals are fairly high in the mix and the harsh screams here compliment the instrumentation well.
Great examples of this are the songs: The Necrocosm, Cold Moon Blasphemies, and Aion. (International Acrobat)