Review Summary: Luscious fallout.
Metal is certainly no stranger to painting grim pictures. For many bands, one more bleak feeling or vision is just another cell in the bloodstream from which they live and thrive. This naturally leads to an overabundance of similar-sounding bands and albums, with the most distinguishing factor from one group to next simply being how they execute their vision. After all, a vivid concept can only go so far if it's realized in a way that neither compels listening nor discussion. Even genres as open to variation as progressive metal have ample room to fall flat when misused (looking at you, Dream Theater). Fortunately for us, this possibility has not been lost on Shylmagoghnar, a relatively fresh face out of the Netherlands comprised of two talented musicians. Emergence
, their debut LP, has been available in its entirety on YouTube since its release in early 2014, amassing nearly 1.4 million views to date. This may not automatically put them in the same echelon as other, more commonly known metal bands, but it obviously speaks volumes about the appeal Emergence
has to both new and returning listeners.
What must be mentioned from the onset is that Emergence
works incredibly well for both types of listeners; the music is remarkably polished and tasteful, especially for a debut. A host of complementary subgenres are utilized to the point that you think less about the band’s influences and more about how natural it all sounds. A quick sample would likely see comparisons made to melodic death metal, but with some touches and subtleties integrated into the framework. This immediate impression means we’re dealing with an album that, though accessible, still holds the goods to keep people coming back to both ponder and enjoy the music even further. Emergence
is the definition of instrumentally ripe , boasting a healthy combination of thrash-esque riffs and atmospheric melodies. Even when the album begins to shift gears, it loses neither sight nor grasp of its post-apocalyptic sensations. Shylmagoghnar constantly ride the line between contrasting elements, be it wonder and gloom, or aggression and delicacy. It’s a line that will either keep you guessing or coming back to savor that much more.
also takes advantage of a few progressive touches to better animate the listening experience, often evidenced in how each track plays out compared to what comes before or after it. Skirge and Nimblkorg wisely kick off with an elegant instrumental piece before grizzling things for a couple tracks, only to gradually pull back before sharpening their grit yet again. This may sound messy in writing, but the duo handle the shifting scenery with tact. No particular style is left to dominate for too long. One of the few seeming constants is vocalist Skirge, who as his name suggests, plays up the grit by screaming and snarling in ways that will feel familiar to any avid metal fan. His inspirations are often transparent, such as the Stanne-like growls on “This World Shall Fall” and an exclamation early into “Squandered Paradise” that sounds like it was ripped straight out of Dance of December Souls
. The exertion of Skirge’s vocal style is ultimately a less interesting version of what Emergence
achieves from an instrumental standpoint, but one that still fits the fold quite comfortably.
Shylmagoghnar have done well to put themselves on the radar. Not only have they made it easy to hear their first batch of material, but they’ve managed to remain engaged with listeners’ comments. Combine that with an excellent debut that makes revisiting a wasteland-like soundscape more and more appealing with every listen and you have a truly strong foundation to build upon. Time will tell if Shylmagoghnar can keep the momentum going into Transcience
, but if Emergence
is a sign of things to come, then we may have a new, high-rising metal band to follow over the coming years.