In the year and some change that I’ve been writing for Angry Metal Guy, I’ve learned some very valuable lessons. Constant usage of the words “samey,” “juxtaposition,” and “swagger” will get you the Eternal Stinkeye. “Corsetcore” is not a real subgenre. We do not mention
Jørn Lande He Who Shall Not Be Named around these parts for fear of his arrival, Dio cover songs in tow. But most importantly, you don’t finalize your Top Ten(ish) list in the month of November because a band can (and will) mess that shit up on you. After two promising albums, Belgium’s Saille dropped a doozy in Eldritch, a concept album centered around modern and classic pieces of horror literature, and they make a pretty strong case for changing my list at the last minute.
If there is one thing that Saille has nailed early on in their young career, it’s their ability to coat their music in generous helpings of atmosphere, but not to the point of oversaturation. Opener “Emerald” has a bit of a mid-period Dimmu Borgir feel to it. Very symphonic, not overwraught with drama, but also with a much better vocalist in Dennie Grondelaers, who makes great use of cavernous growls and a nice throaty mid-range scream. There’s a little bit of an old Hammer Horror vibe in Dries Gaerdelen’s keyboards mid-way into the song, but again, used only to enhance the mood and not overindulge. Not a bad little intro to set up Eldritch.
And set it up nicely, it has, as from that point on, it’s one unstoppable trek after another. “Walpurgis” is full-on aggression, with only a bit of a respite in the end, before going into some serious blasting and riffage by guitarists Reinier Schenk and Jonathan Vanderwal. “Eater of Worlds” feels like a dark dance, signaling the end times in a romantic 6/8 waltz. The standout of Eldritch has to be “Cold War,” a somber, melancholic number recalling Eye of Solitude, complete with haunting piano melodies draped over a tremolo-riffed cadaver. All well-played and brilliantly executed, for the most part.
“Wait,” you are probably asking yourself, “what do you mean, ‘for the most part’?” The symphonic aspects can cause parts of Eldritch to blend together a bit much, and sometimes it can get a little goofy, as in the spoken parts of “The Great God Pan.” The production doesn’t help all that much, as it is a bit brickwalled, the bass is hopelessly buried, and it gets super loud when the music blasts away, with Kevin De Leener’s drumming taking the brunt of the damage. Still, I kept coming back to Eldritch over and over again to get my symphonic black metal fix, and there’s a lot to unearth with repeated listens.
Here in November, we have ourselves a strong and enjoyable slab of melancholic beauty in Eldritch. Saille may not be the go-to name in heavily orchestrated black metal, but it could very well change soon enough. If this sounds at all enticing to you, give this a shot. Color me impressed! [Nice job. You may now speak of Jorn freely and oftenly – Steel Druhm].