SKYTHALA “Boreal Despair”

By Dr. Abner Mality

Here’s yet another screwy one on the I, Voidhanger label. Imagine that. This time, SKYTHALA (who are described as a “mysterious entity”...along with about 800 others I can name off the top of my head) are a band who mix dissonant death metal, epic black metal and neo-classical sounds inspired by the Russian composer Stravinsky. So if you’re looking for a little Stravinsky in your GORGUTS, here you go…

The result is indeed odd and heard nowhere better than opening track “Eternal Nuclear Dawn”, which is extremely heavy and disorienting, with the woodwind sounds of oboe and bassoon added to a shifting mix of GORGUTS-style dissonance and avant-garde black metal. It’s a hard beast to ride, but if you can hang on, you’ll find something truly different. That’s the most effective track here, though….the classical detours on “Variegated Stances of Self Mockery” and “Boreal Phrenological Despair” are more distracting than anything else and don’t work as well. “Rotted Wooden Castles” is probably the most “traditional” sounding tune, with classical instruments at a minimum, while “At Dawn They Walk” takes exactly the opposite route, putting brass and woodwind in the more prominent role. The album ends with “Yielding Quivers of Revolution”, which is quite an effective blast of off-kilter extreme metal than ends with surprisingly effective acoustic guitar.

OK, we’ve established that SKYTHALA is weird as fuck, which is not a shocker considering the label they’re on. They are not the first nor will they be the last band that tries to integrate classical composition into extreme metal, but I can say that they have their own take on it. That right there is worth something.