Scáth Na Déithe – The Dirge of Endless Mourning [Things You Might Have Missed 2020]

There’s something special about the Irish metal. Mythological elements intertwine with its primordial melodies in a unique blend of sounds that conjure rage, desperation, melancholy, and heritage, often simultaneously. One-man project from Rush, Scáth Na Déithe is a shining example of this balancing act of death and black metal. From the potential hinted in debut EP The Horrors of Old to stunningly dark debut full-length Pledge Nothing But Flesh, it fuses the density of esoteric death metal a la Teitanblood and Grave Miasma with the slow burn and melancholia of The Blaze of Perdition and The Ruins of Beverast with hints of doom. Sophomore effort The Dirge of Endless Mourning continues this trend in one of the more actualized and balanced blackened affairs of 2020.

Similar to PrometheusResonant Echoes from Cosmos of Old from this year, Scáth Na Déithe strikes a balance of death and black with stunning professionalism, balancing out scathing tremolo and distant roars and shrieks with bottom-end heft and a healthy dose of murk. What shows a marked improvement over Pledge Nothing But Flesh is its track lengths: four tracks, each ten minutes or longer. The result is a superbly well-written affair, as transitions are smooth and seamless between passages of pummeling density and others of ominous ambiance or acoustic plucking. Variety takes center stage in the form of its balanced tempos and flourishes, but never deviate from the central sound.

Each track takes on a life of its own. Opener “The Maligner’s Tongue” and “Remnant Understanding” are bleakly dark affairs full of punishing riffs and doom tempos, a lovechild of Teitanblood and The Ruins of Beverast. “Misery Beyond Time” and “Ochón” schowcase exercises in melancholia, bordering on Agalloch with folk dreariness and blackened doom heft (although the dueling riff in “Misery Beyond Time” is tiiight). As aforesaid, these two distinct moods are streamlined by their adherence to the murky black/death palette, morphing from stinging shreds to punishing riffs seamlessly, thanks to the album’s ultimate dependence on its brooding atmosphere. The Dirge of Endless Mourning accomplishes a complex mood that feels distinctly dark overall while allowing its individual pieces to communicate more through its potent chord transitions and melodic flourishes.

At the end of the day, The Dirge of Endless Mourning does little to challenge black/death, and instead offers a fantastic example of it. The Irish heritage is undeniable in Scáth Na Déithe‘s style, but it avoids tacky clichés in favor of a listen that is blistering, punishing, beautiful, and haunting. Perhaps one of the most noticeable improvements of the year, this Irish project does its subject justice while gracefully dodging easy pigeonholing for a stunningly atmospheric listen that settles nicely between death and black, using its folk and doom assets effectively.

Tracks to Hunt Leprechauns To: “The Maligner’s Tongue,” “Misery Beyond Time,” and “Ochón”

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