Wapentake – Murmurations

Another Lighten Up Sounds tape/download has hit Archaic Triad. Wapentake has been described as a neofolk band with black metal influences, and that’s probably the best way to explain it. Murmurations features eight tracks of mainly acoustic guitars and background nature noises, with electric guitars, a hint of vocals and some synth thrown in to spice things up.

The orientation is very close to traditional dungeon synth, in the sense that these songs could very well have been included as interludes, intros or other non-metal extras on a black metal record. However, while many dungeon synth acts may be inspired by Burzum’s “Tomhet”, Bathory’s “Oden’s Ride Over Nordland” or (best case scenario) Vlad Tepes’ “Wladimir’s March”, here we’re talking more string based pieces. Dissection’s acoustic stuff on The Somberlain and some of the more basic guitar work from Ulver’s Kveldsanger spring to mind pretty much right away. A more obscure reference – for these are the life blood of the music nerd – would be the very strange song “Blėstančių žvaigždžių tylėjimas” by Lithuanian Obtest. That track, essentially an instance of unplugged black metal, is very similar in atmosphere to much of what’s on offer on Murmurations.

The track titles are straight forward, yet suggestive. Titles such as “Saxon Pastoral” and “Ytene” all fit snugly with the evocative music, and thematically connect the music, which at times feels rather Eastern European, to the actual UK roots of the artist. The best track hands down is “The Harrowing” – the combination of simple percussion, distorted guitars and acoustic folkiness is absolutely smashing.

Murmurations captures a lot of the “old school” second wave black metal feeling, without actually being black metal. It’s the type of music someone would have brought on tape for an evening drinking session in the woods (yes, we did that a whole lot in the 90’s and early 2000’s, because we weren’t shit like you kids today with your hashtags and guarana based energy drinks). In short: it’s awesome and it’s available at a very decent price from Lighten Up Sounds or from the band itself.

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