Maeskyyrn – Interlude Review

I normally dislike interludes intensely – the recent, very good Tool album,1 for example, I recreated as a playlist minus the four interludes because they annoyed the crap out of me. So an album called Interlude, with three tracks actually titled “Interlude,” plus an “Introduction” and final track “The End,” put me somewhat on edge. Despite having really liked the advance tracks for Maeskyyrn’s Interlude, I was expecting to have to report that here is yet another really promising album ruined by bloat and plinky … well, interludes. Not so. Most very not so. Instead, Maeskyyrn treat the unsuspecting listener to an outstanding melodic black metal album, steeped in bleakness. “Is there still hope? Maybe, but we are not here to enlighten you on that matter…,” opine Maeskyyrn, “or are we?” Oh, you wags, you tease.

Interlude is the full-length debut from these Montreal natives, following 2018’s demo EP, Thoughts of Shattered Dreams. It is, by degrees, a crushingly heavy, melodic and atmospheric slice of black metal, that both surprised and enthralled me. It’s been a while since I have so willingly hit repeat on a promo sitting in my review queue. Maeskyyrn begin Interlude in gentle mood as “Introduction. The Artificial Light,” opens with slowburn synth notes over deep hypnotic breaths and whispers, which gradually build toward a melodic, almost doom, riff and clean background vocals. Somehow, this feels like an appropriate moment of calm or an intake of breath, before the assault that is to come. And what an assault it is. “Gathering Believers among Sheep” wastes zero time in laying about it with harsh rasped vocals, trem picked guitars and blastbeat drumming, with some great little triplets. Over it all, ride some mournful and soaring melodic leads that temper the fury a little. In this, Interlude reminded me of Panzerfaust – with whom they also share some lyrical themes of war and desolation – and former label mates Obsidian Tongue’s A Nest of Ravens in the Throat of Time.2

The centerpiece of the record is the huge “These Battlefields, where none walk twice,” which breaks out of the pvre black metal mold in places, introducing into the mix elements of blackened death metal and reminding me, if only a little, of the epic Mistur, something I would say for “Of Forests and Troubled Pasts” too. Both batter at your braindrums, shrieking their way into your skull but also offer searing leads and surprising levels of subtlety that repay numerous listens. Both these tracks also see Maeskyyrn make some use of gruff, growled Amon Amarth-style vocals, which mix things up nicely against the rasping howls of Alexandre Lamothe (also known as “Harslingoth, The Overseer,” yes, really) that dominate. The album’s longest cut (by a few seconds), “The Slow Death of Years and other Omens,” is also the most unrelentingly brutal track on Interlude, as drummer Mehrunes, The Pace Of Blight (again, yes, really) utterly loses his shit, driving the song forward at lightning pace. Even here though, there is breathing space, as the clean, chanted vocals from the introduction reappear.

Having made such a thing of them in the first paragraph, I suppose I should briefly return to the interludes themselves. The three of them – “Interlude I,” “II” and “III,” respectively – are used to space out the record’s four main tracks, each of which clock in at 7 minutes plus. There is nothing particularly ingenious in this per se but as each of those tracks has its own identity, all built around huge levels of breathless ferocity, the space afforded by these atmospheric interludes, each shorter than the last, is surprisingly effective to reduce the claustrophobic intensity that Maeskyyrn bring to the table. Interlude also sounds seriously good, with everything where it should be in the mix – at least for my preferences – and a great guitar tone that is both harsh and mournful, without feeling cold.

Maeskyyrn really impressed me with Interlude. Even more so because it’s a debut. The use of melody and space, as well as the sparing use of clean background vocals, on the record show a level of maturity and songcraft that I associate with bands who are on maybe their third record and starting to explore a more expansive sound, tempering some of the aggression they poured into that debut. Make no mistake, the fury and despair is there in spades on Interlude but, as Maeskyyrn intimate, maybe there is a hint of enlightenment on show too.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 12 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Hypnotic Dirge Records
Websites: |
Release Date: October 17th, 2019

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Discuss.
  2. Obsidian Tongue are now on Bindrune Recordings, which, at the time of writing, inexplicably still hasn’t released the band’s very good Volume III, despite its slated September 30th release date.
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