Review: Elffor – Malkhedant

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Where the forest meets the sea…

Remember that kinda dorky kid back in school? He sometimes used to be seen with the “nerds” but unlike them he seemed more distant. Always locked in a mysterious state of reverie. You heard him speak once. He surprised all with some abstruse fact during history class, but apart from instances like that, he was assumed to be insignificant by most. The kind of person you expected to see on social media some years later at a renaissance fair clad in antiquated attire, living up to the common expectation. Well, as it turns out he’s some kind of warlock warrior now. No, not in an online RPG. An actual fucking warlock. Having been whisked away from the present day in some kind of temporal vortex, he is now a civilisation’s legend. The guy you once knew is now what you can only assume to be the chief pagan heretic engaged in a centuries-long intergenerational ideological battle against a slew of invading infidels. Fuck! You just knew him as that Duncan guy.

On his latest release, Spanish ambient black metal artist Elffor will take you directly to the forest of his dreams. And what a place it is! Fraught with dangerous quests, furious battles, memorable landscapes and an alluring atmosphere, Malkhedant is a canorous tapestry of sound. Ranging from near Ahklys/Nightbringer-level chaos at its darkest, to Sequestered Keep type medieval synthery at the lighter end of the spectrum, this collection of 4 tracks carries the listener across entire lands in its 45 minute run-time. There are traces of the Hellenic black metal sound interspersed throughout as well, with some of the riff themes recalling the nuanced attack of Greek masters Nocternity (see last track “Eldhr” @ 33:50). The transitions from distorted furor into the feudal ambiance are often abrupt but manage to avoid coming off as jarring for the most part.

After first being introduced to Elffor many moons ago through the mysterious caped figure that can sometimes be found lurking amidst the fog surrounding this humble latrine, I’ve spent some time (but not nearly as much as I’d have liked) delving into his 20 year discography. And from what I’ve found, the prevailing melodic sentiment seems slightly different to Elffor’s previous efforts. Malkhedant has what I can best describe as maritime undertones. Sure, the majority of the album feels like you’re in the forest, but this time the ocean’s waters lap up against those trees whose trunks dare to straddle the threshold of the habitable terrain. The resulting sound is a marvelous blend of motifs. Sometimes the interchange feels like the ships just off shore are within speaking distance, the local bards and the oceanic travelers able to trade folklore through music. The vocals, while fairly sparse, range from sermon-like chants to tortured cries. There are also quite a few passages of majestic female vocals that enhance the mood perfectly.

If you’re interested in symphonic black metal, ambient/dark synth or just want to visit the forests of a forgotten time without taking hallucinogens and watching [insert fantasy film of your choice here] for the 16th time, then give Malkhedant a spin. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a bandcamp source, so if you’re looking to purchase this album your best bet is probably to head over to Elffor.com and pick up a copy of this limited release. Also, you should head over to Elffor’s facebook page and tell him where you came from.

4/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell

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