Yhdarl - Loss 01Pulling off a long song — be it a ten-minute black metal piece or an hour-plus funeral doom opus — takes very deliberate pacing. Great drone and doom bands know this and know how to pull the listener rather than push them. If the song moves too fast, it can seem to lose structure, but if it moves too slowly, it can stagnate and sour the listener to its next idea. One has to have the pacing and space to keep themselves involved. Sunn O))) will keep you guessing at when they’ll place the next chord, and they use the naturally nuanced texture of high-amplification to fill the space between. Bell Witch can stretch a two-note riff out for the length of a grindcore album just by pinching each note out of the bass with gravitas.

Yhdarl have spent a decade writing monstrous songs; the formerly one-man, currently one-man-one-woman, depressive black/drone/doom project claims dozens of EPs, demos, and LPs since 2007, and this year’s Loss LP seems to be a big investment for them. Such a large investment, in fact, that frontman and multi-instrumentalist Déhà (of Clouds and about seventy other bands) released a two-part album last year to help cover the cost of Loss‘s physical release. An album which, I don’t mind telling you, clocks in at five hours long. Yhdarl make big, big music.

Loss‘s most immediate strength reveals itself within the album’s first seconds. “Ignite-Ashes” opens with a string scrape and a shriek so raw and impassioned that the first riff nearly drowns beneath it. Between Déhà, his blackened buddy Larvalis and a bevy of guest spots, this album covers nearly every corner of the black metal vocal range and the first few moments of “Ignite – Ashes” provide a tantalizing taste of even broader vocal variety to come.

That variety largely carries the album through its roughest spots, where the three enormous songs occasionally drag. “Ignite – Ashes” subsists on blast beats and simple trem-picked patterns for ten minutes before Yhdarl deign to pull back and add quiet contrast, and after eight minutes of great vocals and lackluster guitar work, I was ready to write off this album as a casualty of excess. Yet, better late than never, the song recovers in its last third. Much to my surprise, the twenty minute “Despise – Pity” fares quite well, and shifts through a plethora of compelling passages, balancing repetition and novelty remarkably well. The cleanly sung lines that enter around eleven minutes in come as a pleasant surprise, recalling the fragility of Oathbreaker just before huge power chords fracture the atmosphere.

Yhdarl - Loss 02

Like any songs of this length, it’s possible to pick apart the composition and suggest trimming repetitions or excising a weaker idea to move the song along faster, but Yhdarl‘s talent at arranging largely obviates the need for big changes. I’ll check my watch if I’m not in the mood for depressive blackened doom, but when the music fits my mood, Loss proves itself more than worthy of my attention. It takes a lot of patience to uncover the album’s best moments, but when caught in its current, I find myself pulled along just as I should be.

I don’t love Loss, but it has proven far better than I could have expected; an expansive and depressive journey that I expect to still enjoy when I’m in the mood, and at under fifty minutes long, it’s a much smaller commitment than Cloak of AshSisterre, and Mirror Reaper, a few of my other go-to albums for long and encapsulating soundscapes. For those often moved by depressive black metal and long-form doom, Yhdarl‘s efforts here will be welcome.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: I, Voidhanger Records
Websites: yhdarl.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/yhdarl
Releases Worldwide: January 19th, 2017

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  • welyyt

    The thing that’s annoying about these one-man black metal projects is that they never say whether they programmed or actually played the drums: is it more cvlt to keep people guessing or is it uncool to admit they’ve spent numerous hours in Superior Drummer?

    • Retchin’ Rites ov Karhu

      If you can’t tell it doesn’t matter.

      • welyyt

        Why wouldn’t it matter?

        • Kronos

          Because you can’t tell.

          • Name’s Dalton

            Not sure how that makes it not matter. People want to know for different reasons that matter to them.

          • sir_c

            It’s like hearing in the Chinese restaurant: that wasn’t chicken.
            It sure tasted like it

          • Today is your day, champ.

      • welyyt

        It’s less about the music itself as it is about the context behind it; as someone who likes to follow people who play in different bands, I’m interested in seeing what they do next, so it would be nice if these guys simply stated if they were drummers as well as guitarists or whatever (e.g. Leon Macey, who plays guitars and drums in Mithras, but only sits behind the kit in Sarpanitum, or Lauri Laaksonen from Desolate Shrine, who actually plays all of the instruments).

    • GrumpDumpus

      WHAT IS CVLT

      • Kronos

        It’s a common misspelling of “KVLT.”

        • The correct reply was “DUMPUS DON’T HURT ME”

          • Kronos

            Whoops.

        • GrumpDumpus

          WELL FUCK ME THROUGH AN EAR OF CORN SIDEWAYS

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        On an absolutely unrelated note, you should change your nickname from GrumpDumpus to GrumpusDumpus.

        • basenjibrian

          Would the plural of this species be Grumpae or Grumpiae?

          • Nukenado

            Grumpiæ. When in doubt, add an asch and more vowels.

          • sir_c

            Grümp for extra metal creds.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            I don’t know, ask Kronos, he’s the biologist.

        • GrumpDumpus

          WHAT BLASPHEMY IS THIS

  • Wes Allen
    • Septic

      I can see straight through them now!

    • sir_c

      Unless the mushrooms they ate interconnected the retina to the cochlea.

  • Dagoth_RAC

    I really wish AMG himself had reviewed the 5-hour record from last year. That would have been a fun review to read…

    • Kronos

      I’ve heard probably 40 minutes of it and it’s actually not bad. Production is a bit shabby, but this Deha guy can really handle long-form.

      • This Déhà guy is a fucking beast.

      • Butbutbuuut.. less is more!?

      • Prostidude

        So you listened to like… half of the intro?

        • Kronos

          I kind of skipped around a bit.

  • This is the album throane should have made, instead of just repeating itself with chanting and choruses.

    Can’t think of another group where the incoherent screams of a man passing a kidney stone steal the show so well.

    • basenjibrian

      Ach. I actually have revisited Throane lately and like it more than this.

      • The new album? I just think it’s too similar to DNLL

  • Thatguy

    No one loves loss, but loss is inevitable.