- I tried playing Skyrim once and it got to the point where I knew if I didn’t stop then I would lose years of my life to that game as well as the others in the series. That’s me with most vidya games. With black metal, however, that’s something I needed to know everything about as soon as I heard it. Daedric Armour combine something I love with someone I know I should love with their debut record. Normally with a band of this ilk, you’d expect to see demos, EPs, and then the eventual album. The gall to see that trend and think “nah, sod it” and crash into frame via a full album is balls. Ballsy and paid off spectacularly, in this case. How many black metal bands take deep lore, mythos, or novels and transmute it into music? Why not do it with the Elder Scrolls?
Not nearly as heavy as their namesake, which is classed as extremely heavy mind you, Daedric Armour conjure sinister energy. Its done with erudition and vigour, shunning ambience for the most part and dialling up raw edges, making them more jagged and abrasive. Across these seven songs -well six and an actual interlude- this pointed assault of a debut record doesn’t muddy, dilute, or vitiate itself in an arms race for brutality. Rather, each song contains watertight ideas that are played to perfection. Having a look at Castle Volkihar, and in a similar way opener Innocence Lost, it starts strong, as big, daunting riffs create cracks as the weight batters down. Those cracks from the big openings allow for needling tremolos and frantic chords to cut their way through when given half a chance. Castle Volkihar has an interlude in itself, much like its name, it houses the Volkihar Clan; it’s a genius bit of double tracked melody that drops you right between Tamriel and Atmora. It’s this raw, twangy calm dropped between two storms. These songs are interlaced with moments like this. If they aren’t musical quietness, they’re audio clips from the games being weaved in.
War Of The Crag punctuates its blistering speed with a dungeon synth palate, and gets the emotions in your stomach riled up by these smothered squeaks and squeals. What’s making those sounds? I don’t know, but in a cruel deployment, it makes the rampaging back end clean in after such a heightened state. Mammoth title track and member of the Black Sabbath song name / band name / album name trifect, one ups the feeling of War Of The Crag. That’s in large part to its massive nine minute run time, which fails to ever come across as trite or repetitive. Here is also where the atmospheric elements, which are few and far between, creep in. Guitar melodies soar over this song as they do on Mortal Wound In The Planar Vortex, in a detached, intangible way. Mortal Wound is the most dynamic song on the record with regards to pace. Ripping blast beats and drilling guitars are counter-balanced by chugging sections. As vocals swell and distort, the guitars borrow little screaming pinches from a Botch style of metalcore. It caught me off guard but geez, it works.
There’s so much deep lore within both Elder Scrolls and black metal. Daedric Armour have synthesised both into a record that sounds too good to be their first release and, honestly, too good to be a local release. For them to sound this good this early, it blows me away. Even if its their only release and they fade off to fully embrace the mysterious element, it has genuine staying power. Maybe I should have stayed playing them vidya games.
- Matt Lynch.