Old Growth – Mossweaver Review

Two reviews ago, I picked up my “last” review for the 2020 calendar year. Now, here I am, submitting my real last review for 2020 about as late as you can submit one, uncharacteristically content with my tardy contribution. I really did plan on being done a couple of weeks ago, but then I heard the first few seconds of Mossweaver and I knew I couldn’t let the year end without shining a spotlight on this one. So here we go, one more time – this is the debut album from a one-man band called Old Growth, who play atmospheric black metal written by mysterious entity Animist, whose goal is for this album to express a deep gratitude for the natural world and act as a gateway to “a world of wilderness and primal landscapes.” So I dove through the gateway, and was happy to explore the other side.

Old Growth write atmospheric black metal in a similar vein to Winterfylleth and early (Loss) Wodensthrone. This is an album of long songs, drumming that echoes through eternity, and rasps that might make you think Saor, but with less bark and more bite. But instead of sounding like just another clone of the genre, Old Growth manage to stand apart from the crowd through their depressive black metal spin, some flourishes of Ezkaton that manifest in moments of calm before the storm. Here, Mossweaver lulls you in with touching, beautiful waves of melodic leads, bleak arpeggios, and light symphonic stylings before exploding into blast beats, primal screams, and crushing riffs. Navigating these two worlds is at the heart of Old Growth’s sound.

In case I haven’t made it clear yet, “the heart of Old Growth’s sound” is awesome. “Oakenheart” stands as a shining example of a gorgeous formula executed perfectly; it’s constantly evolving, but falls back on a some gorgeous reoccurring melodies that pull off despair, anger, and power equally well over eleven minutes that fly by. “Queen of the Woodland Realms” amps up the aggression a bit, while the title track closes with an unexpected flurry of gorgeous ambient waves to carry the listener into even deeper shades of sorrow. Mossweaver is an album filled with cold, furious, melancholy, and Old Growth continuously finds creative and unexpected ways to express those emotions throughout its runtime.

It feels strange to offer critiques for Mossweaver after the glowing summary I’ve offered so far; it really is filled to the brim with amazing moments and beautiful songs. Despite this, repeated listens of the album have made it clear that there are a few elements of it that don’t quite land for me. These are primarily rooted in the album’s flow; tracks like “Old Growth” begin to feel a little formulaic after repeated listens, with the melancholy slow parts and the icy black metal bits feeling jammed together, with little in the way of transitions or interludes. The album whole has the same issue, where most songs end in fade-outs, and the mid-point duo of “The Seedling” and “Queen of the Woodland Realm” don’t do enough to distinguish themselves from their surroundings. At fifty-four minutes, Mossweaver needs to be a bit more agile than it is to feel like a complete album, and while it does an admirable job, these aspects of it do stand out the more I listen to it.

Even if you aren’t necessarily a fan of the atmoblack style, there isn’t a single song on Mossweaver I wouldn’t recommend checking out if you like your metal melancholy, primal, moving, or powerful. Mossweaver is an interesting case of an album filled with good ideas and exemplary performances whose execution feels just a little bit off. As such, I am confident in saying that Old Growth is absolutely an act to keep an eye on, and as I return to “Oakenheart” for the umpteenth time, I know that I cannot wait to see what they will do next.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Supreme Chaos Records
Websites: oldgrowthblackmetal.bandcamp.com
Released Worldwide: December 18th, 20201

Show 1 footnote

  1. Self-released December 4.
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