Review Summary: An excellent atmospheric black metal album that shouldn't be overlooked.
Elderwind is a Russian black metal outfit formed in 2009 by Persy Vyacheslav. After a few years of experimentation, Persy added drummer Andrey Bykov and vocalist Alexander Sinyugen to the mix for Elderwind’s 2012 debut album, “The Magic of Nature.” If you’re looking for a black metal kvlt classic, you’d best look elsewhere as TMoN is a beautifully structured ambient piece of music where Vyacheslav really shows his talent as a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, doing all of the guitar, bass and keyboard playing, as well as most of the songwriting on the record.
That being said, this album is still a black metal album, and a damn good one at that. It breaks the cardinal rules of black metal with prominent bass and keyboard playing throughout the 52 minute experience, and it’s a fairly soft album through and through. One could draw comparisons to bands like Agalloch, but an album this good shouldn’t be reduced to a clone of other popular atmospheric black metal; it may not pioneer into new territory, but it’s certainly unique enough to stand as a notable accomplishment on its own. Let’s get into specifics.
The album opens with “In the Snow,” a purely ambient song with a wall of guitars in the background complementing the keyboard playing in the foreground. A couple minutes into the song, the listener is greeted by Singuyen’s harsh vocals which last for the duration of the five and a half minute intro, then fading out as the title track starts up. “The Magic of Nature” opens with a slow guitar and keyboard part that picks up drums and then vocals for the rest of the 8 minute song. It isn’t until track six, “The Approach of Spring,” that we get closer into black metal territory with blast beats and vocals that overpower the instruments for the first time on the album. This lasts for about nine minutes until “When the Rain Starts Again” follows suit with a harsher sound with more focus on the vocals than any song on the first half of the album. “In the Cold” finishes the record with a six minute masterpiece that shows the mastery of this band in all of the instrumentation on the song. They keyboard is simple but effective, the guitars rock and the drums keep the listener engaged.
My only real gripe about this album is that the same formula is used in many of the songs: Ambient intro, add drums, vocals, include a few instrumental parts here and there, fade out, rinse and repeat. Plus it’s not really anything new, though it is exceptional for an album of its type. I understand this won’t be for everyone, but if you’re into ambient music that uses black metal to compliment atmospheric passages, “The Magic of Nature” is worth a listen.
The Magic of Nature, The Approach of Spring, and In The Cold.