Around for fourteen years and variably considered ahead of their time or, just out of this world for the entirety of it Arvada, Colorado based quartet The Flight of Sleipnir are inarguably original thought-whirlers on the post-doom/folk metal (but not really post-metal, or folk metal) spectrum who’ve been slept on and more-or-less unseen for seeming eons. Earthen as possible, reverently psychedelic, folkish, blackened-ish, doomed and somehow viking/Norse mythology themed there spikes a fresh frenzy of attempts to summarize their impossible to shoehorn sound as each new release arrives. The remedy to these mental gymnastics is a leap of faith on the part of the categorically obsessed listener, to allow these fellowes to self-define within the expanse of this comfortably numbing seventh full-length, ‘Eventide‘, and let it be all of the things that it is at once and move on towards feeling it’s night-shaded essence. They’ve made this record particularly easy to sink into, not catatonic but perhaps even more fluid and relaxed than the last few, only folks who have their mind palace fully-stocked with chill will manage to weather it with any sense.
The Flight of Sleipnir formed in 2007, around ten years after the lot of them (well, the initial duo) had cut their teeth in Denver-area blackened death metal act Throcult and underrated black metal project Acheronian Tides. All but one member from the latter band would eventually join The Flight of Sleipnir live and later feature on record circa 2016 and beyond. In this sense this project is post-black metal in the truest definition, just as post-hardcore was a style developed by former hardcore musicians so is this a “post-black” development that includes heavy influence from progressive rock, doom metal, folk music — An extension of interests beyond black metal, still retaining some malleable extreme metal traits within their arsenal. This isn’t exactly the right way to frame the band’s beginnings, which were initially more suited to psychedelic doom and folkish post-metal ideas but, even from the earliest demos and recordings (later compiled as ‘Ascension‘, 2012) we see the band as an amorphously observed but perfectly lain assemblage of these influences into a unique sound and well, more importantly a very good sense of self and style. Their debut album ‘Algiz+Berkanan‘ (2009) struck between the eyes of many, emphasizing the progressive, melancholic doom metal, and post-metal ideals of Cascadian black metal and groups like Agalloch with the equally eclectic and ambitious reach of groups like Yob in mind as well, extracting their own sound from these broad-reaching climes and much like Woods of Ypres they’d end up with their own sort of interpretation that’d take some bolds steps into the 2010’s. Although the ~19 minute piece “Algiz” says it all in red-eyed technicolor it was ‘Lore‘ (2010) that spread their odd tendrils worldwide landing on No Colours and eventually Northern Silence‘s doom/other imprint Eyes Like Snow, which folks might’ve noticed I’d been a big collector of ’til their hiatus. The appeal of the band wasn’t obvious for its puzzle of sub-genre elements but rather the sort of “heroic surrealism” they painted with on those earliest, heaviest releases peaking both extremes of mellow and aggressive tonality on ‘Essence of Nine‘ (2011). Their masterpiece and a sign that they were done iterating upon their larger concept, an identity had secured therein and the refinement process has continued for the last ten years.
Heavier on their mellowed out side but professionally rendered beyond their past works ‘Saga‘ (2013) served to clip away the roughest edges of The Flight of Sleipnir and served as their breach beyond the deeper underground, landing them on Napalm Records for ‘V.‘ (2014), which was oddly cavernous, heavier as if in response to the ease of ‘Saga’. Each of these records made it onto my best of the year lists but I’d somehow missed their Eisenwald debut ‘Skadi‘ in 2017. For my own taste the quiet, surreal post-doom metal side of the band works best when slipping into deeper neofolk and progressive rock influenced elements and the “black metal” side that rasps in mid-paced and wrathful narration is best when served with a garage-like sludge/doom tone and didn’t initially like the cleanliness of ‘Skadi’ until I’d returned to it a couple years later. It’d actually been a sort of cleanly reprisal of what’d made ‘Essence of Nine’ a special record. The artist had come full circle and had seemingly reached a goal, either with purpose or in reflection; A fairly long hiatus of nearly four years suggests this seventh record brings something new, whatever sight beyond achievement they’d managed in the interim. ‘Eventide’ lives up to this expectation or, premonition, that something must change on the path forward invoking the essence of Nótt on their most intimately themed and performed record to date. The Flight of Sleipnir presents us with not only nighttime but wonder for the great unknown beyond sight, ~45 minutes of dream-scanning and dramatic psychedelic music that doesn’t plod on without heaviness but certainly reaches for a tone of personal reveal, confiding and calmingly surrealistic throughout.
Seven albums deep, harboring some seriously relaxed vibes to start, and dividing the three quarter hour into six pieces ‘Eventide’ feels all the more vast for spreading each song into equal parts. The trade for easier readability would normally be a slightly less immersive quality but songwriters David Csicsely and Clayton Cushman have provided a well-groomed running order that plays much like a classic psychedelic rock record with a post-extreme music twist in its gut, easily sluicing through its dynamically satisfying, continuously shimmering run but certainly stopping to smell the moonflowers. The flow of this record might be its greatest triumph over past works, still including the signature movements The Flight of Sleipnir are loved for but dappling the experience with post-rock sprawl, gothic country guitar twang (“Bathe the Stone in Blood”) and a sort of Empyrium-esque melodrama that suits this warmed mood well on “January” to start but “Harvest” in particular. Beyond these smaller observations I don’t know what can “sell” a band like this to an unindoctrinated listener beyond what speaks for itself, the sound is distinctly theirs and one can twist their way from In the Woods… all the way to Indian and still not quite cover the feeling of it all coming together. Opener “Volund” yields the feeling of a safe return to their realm, an inspired opener that rings into its beautifully straying lead melody from the start and is breaking into plucked prog-rock knots by the second minute. This is The Flight of Sleipnir at their least compressed, still shaking the shoulders half-loose for the sake of conviction but howling their own brand of glory in a most bard-like fashion. There are plenty of favored pockets to praise along the way: The blackened melodic arcs of “Thaw”, the psychedelic contempt in the mid-section of “Servitude”, and the rousing final third of “To Bathe The Stone in Blood” all demand closer listening and well, “pleasure” listening rather than reserved academic interest. I went into my time with ‘Eventide’ already an indebted fan of over a decade and after sinking well into it I walk away impressed with the substantial pivot-and-push towards intimacy that it represents. A high recommendation.
|ARTIST:||THE FLIGHT OF SLEIPNIR|
|RELEASE DATE:||May 28th, 2021|
|BUY & LISTEN:||Bandcamp [All Formats]|
|GENRE(S):||Psychedelic Blackened Folk Metal,|
Blackened Stoner Folk/Doom
Help Support Grizzly Butts’ goals with a donation:
Please consider donating directly to site costs and project funding using PayPal.