Darkher – The Buried Storm Review

I still remember the initial impact Realms, the 2016 full-length debut from singer/songwriter Jayn Maiven, aka Darkher, left when it was first released. Her stripped-back instrumentation, multi-layered vocals, and hefty command of atmosphere reshaped what doom metal could be if a little bit of creativity were applied, and in doing so, set one hell of a bar for similar acts to try to surpass.1 Thanks to numerous delays, word on a follow-up was sparse, and it looked like anything that would follow such a tremendous album would be a letdown. After years of waiting, The Buried Storm finally sees the light of day, piercing through the fog like a concentrated beam from a weathered lighthouse.

With new drummer Christopher Smith in tow, as well as session violinists and cellists providing added ambiance, including Forndom’s Ludwig Swärd, Maiven once again navigates the listener through 41 rain-soaked minutes of introspection, longing, and beautifully enchanting music. The biggest difference between Realms and its follow-up is that the metal has been dialed down a bit here, with half the album going into distorted territory. Maiven leans heavily into the folkier side of her songcraft this time, and the results are nothing short of breathtaking.

For instance, “Where the Devil Waits” delicately weaves a dew-drenched tapestry, glistening with Maiven’s airy-yet-despaired voice gently flowing through the gaps. Elsewhere, lead-off single “Lowly Weep” perhaps provides the best link to the debut, feeling like a continuation of Realms’ incredible closer “Lament,” but this time veering into darker territory with pounding drums, distorted bass, and simplistic-yet-effective riffs towards the song’s second half. Album highlight “Immortals” further improvises on this duality, with the first half sounding forlorn and downtrodden before lurching into a heavy-booted trudge in the closing few minutes.

But some of the issues that plagued Realms make an unwelcome reappearance. The low-end could use a little beefing up, as the album’s more metallic side suffers a bit from a lack of bass presence. Also, the drums sound just as plastic-y as it did on the debut. That said, everything else on here sounds stellar. The other complaint I have is that closer “Fear Not, My King,” while not a bad song, doesn’t have that emotional imprint that “Immortals” and “Where the Devil Waits” contain. Had it been moved to the middle of the album, it could have made a better impact overall. But that’s a nitpick on an album that easily contains a number of year-end playlist songs that are also perfect for a rainy day.

With all that’s gone on (and in some cases, continues to go on) in the world, I can’t vibe with happy, sunny music that’s aiming to bring manufactured joy into peoples’ lives like a case of ringworm. All I want is my coffee, my gaming controller, some noise-canceling headphones, and something for my ears to absorb when it’s pissing rain outside, everything is warm and grossly humid, and the proper music is the only thing hitting my soul just right. Darkher was that proper music with Realms, and she made it again with The Buried Storm. Just as many people wanna soak up the sun, I want to enjoy a good walk in the fog, and The Buried Storm provides that effortlessly.

Rating: 4.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Prophecy Productions
Websites: darkher-uk.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/DARKHERMUSIC
Releases Worldwide: April 15th, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. So much so, that it got retroactively amended to a 5.0… and yes, I still listen to this on a near-weekly basis here in sunny AF Florida.
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