Hermóðr - Midnight Eclipse - (8/10)
Published on April 7, 2018
Midnight Eclipse marks Hermóðr’s first release of 2018 (though another EP has since been released). Initially released on Bandcamp on the first of the year, Wolfspell Records gave the album a proper physical release in February. The project’s seventh full length album (amid seemingly countless EPs) features eight tracks and fifty-five minutes of music dedicated to the cold winter nights and frozen landscapes.
While all of Hermóðr’s music shares a similarly lush and verdant approach to atmospheric black metal, Midnight Eclipse seems to steer the ship towards a colder, bleaker sound. This album continues the slower moving, almost downtrodden approach that worked so well with the last album, Hädanfärd. Much of the album embraces trance-like repetition and somber atmospheric build ups than the blasting, blazing approach of many black metal acts. This album shares none of the genre’s seething anger and vitriolic hatred, instead focusing on the grandeur and beauty of the northern landscapes.
Heavily distorted tremolo riffing darts throughout the entire album, while a bed ponderously slow percussion trudges through the snow. Selective chord guitar chords shine through occasionally, though the flitting, lofty keyboard notes seem to take center stage for most of time. Rafn’s vocals are most often shrieks, though they remain quite subdued, allowing the music to remain to the focus (though the duet with the female vocalist is very nicely done). It’s quite an immersive listen, as the music requires a certain type of attention as Rafn builds up the atmospherics. Everything culminates in the closing track, where mournful strings merge pleasantly with the slow moving tremolo riffing and ponderous percussion.
Though it’s a bit colder in scope, Midnight Eclipse is another fine offering from Hermóðr. Rafn has certainly pigeonholed Hermóðr’s sound at this point in the game, so the album doesn’t stray far from his base formula. That being said, there aren’t many bands in the style that have his grasp on songwriting and soundscape building. Despite the fact that the band’s style focuses more on spellbinding atmospheres and cathartic passages than brimstone and showy musicianship, this is a finely crafted album and one that should keep the rapt attention of atmospheric black metal fans.