Review Summary: Dobby has no master!
If someone had asked me if I’d be making a habit out of reviewing Harry Potter themed black metal bands I’d probably laugh their ass back off to their dusty Summoning discogs. But now that I’m on my consecutive Slytherin album (the first of which being last year’s When the Darkness Comes
) I guess I better don my robes lest “my father will hear about this”. No? Okay fine, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least set myself down [again] with a friendly butterbeer or glass of spiced mead as I dive into Slytherin’s latest J.K. Rowling export, Tales of Hogsmeade Village
It’s to be expected that a black metal band wouldn’t be giving us a cheery rendition of Potter favourites. These tales of Hogsmeade will be remiss a story of the joke shop, nor will we hear about a cosy pub. Instead, listeners are greeted with the icy topics of the “House of Slytherin”, “Dementor's Kiss” (the act of having your soul physically sucked out of your mouth by a ghostly, feculent, decaying spirit in case I haven’t already lost you) and even a John Towner Williams cover. The album’s short introduction doesn’t give too much away and yet, Tales of Hogsmeade Village
falls off the same mandrake truck as the sophomore before it. Synth led melody carves out an atmosphere above a wall of distorted guitars and steady, less than imaginative drum lines. In “Seven Years” atmosphere is key, used as a vessel to begin the listeners’ journey through these short epics. At times the album’s speed lumbers under its own contextual weight—a feature to which we all wouldn’t be here without and yet there’s a wholesome, all-encompassing nuance that is almost
as enchanting as Madam Rosmerta is to Ronald Weasley.
As we move on little glimmers emerge from time to time. “Double Trouble”, the John Towner Williams cover, breaks the new record neatly in half. You can hear the original notes, melody and lyrics clearly but Slytherin has bastardised a black metal opus over the top. Whirlwinds of shrieks, blast beats and gnarled riffs mutate this track to almost unbearable levels, a transformation made interesting purely for the Frankenstein job it is. From here the usual nuance of doom and gloom continues; Ethereal atmospheres emanate from both “Hogwarts Sorting Hat” and “Quidditch” and some measure of positivity seeps from the melody and the riffs that drive those tracks. But this doesn’t help the fact that Slytherin is largely a one trick hippogriff, born from the desire to place fantasy locales into a-typical black metal soundscapes. Slytherin does this competently, no doubt—but if you’re here for something more, something magical you might find yourself stuck on the platform of 9 and ¾, holding just a train ticket.
Overall I can’t help but echo what I said about last year’s When the Darkness Comes
. The criticism of a record so entrenched within a fantasy world comes easily and I still can’t rob Slytherin of their achievements in combining one with the other. That said, and despite the shortcomings Tales of Hogsmeade Village
contains, Slytherin’s 2022 record is about the same success as the sophomore before it. Maybe next year these guys will down a draught of liquid luck and strike gold. Right now however, they’re about as acceptable as Neville Longbottom’s grades.