Album Title: 
Sacrifices In The Mist
Release Date: 
Tuesday, February 28, 2023
Review Type: 

I recently posted a review for the debut of Swiss act Aspaarn, Ancestral Genocides. That album - and the same goes for both demonstrational mini-albums that have been released in the meantime - brings the bare essence of universal Black Metal in its purest form.

However, George ‘Solaris Lupus’, the guy behind Aspaarn, did record another full-length which dwells within comparable spheres of bleakness and grimness, yet which is, seen from aural point, totally different. Sacrifices In The Mist does not bring Black Metal whatsoever, yet a mostly cold form of Dungeon Synth. I’ll come back to this immediately.

Like all Aspaarn releases, everything was done by the human being himself: song-writing, recording, production and digital release. There is a tape version too, though extremely limited (I do not know whether this got sold out in the meantime, or whether there are still some copies available). That physical one was released via Mahamvantara Arts Records, a label that was unfortunately put on hold (definitely?) in Summer 2023. However, the guy behind that defunct label, Lord Valtgryftåke, still continues with Forbidden Files Records.

As mentioned, Sacrifices In The Mist does not stand for Raw / Atmospheric Black Metal. Moreover, this album brings about thirty-five minutes of Dungeon Synth, inspired by our ancestors’ existence throughout the desolate yet dangerous and barren landscapes of ancient Europe. It reflects the legacy of the purity of Mother Nature, and times when mankind as part of the Earth, rather than the destroyers of past, present and future.

Anyway, before I get lost into misanthropic visions… With this album, Aspaarn offers an icy, ancient, ritualistic form of sonic obscurity, mainly created through synths and assisted by choir-like chants. The synths are multiform, i.e. that the main structure of each composition is constructed around several melodic lines within a same-minded structure. Melodies come, float by, grow, and mingle towards rich harmonies, and then again they seem to fade away once again into oblivion and isolationism. The melodies have a specific lugubrious character, somber and gloomy, misty and cold. That spectral approach gets fortified by the eerie chants, which seem to narrate about spirits long forgotten, ghosts long gone yet still haunting through the fog that hides secret ritual events; sacrificial episodes befalling in the airless, shivering mists indeed. Moreover, sometimes these choirs even have a sacral tang; in Borremose, for example, those semi-divine vocals reflect ritualistic worship of archaic godlike spirits. In other songs, the voices act like narratives, distantly echoing, reciting occurrences and events of Old (example: Sorø, amongst others, which includes those story-telling vocals as well as somewhat Gregorian-like choir-chants).

Production-wise, Sacrifices In The Mist has a fine-tuned old-schooled touch of sound. There is a satisfying touch of impurity (okay, some might complain about the unpolished sound-quality for sure, which indeed cannot be ignored or denied), yet that rough-edged mix strengthens the Old Style mysticism for sure. That imperfect sound fits well to the primal content and olden-fashioned atmosphere. It results in a bleak, nightly, doomed ambience beyond reverie and imagination…