SiviyjСивый Яр or to give them their more pronounceable name Sivyj Yar are a Russian outfit who have several releases including three albums prior to this, my first encounter with them. It would appear that everything we hear from them is done from just the one person Vladimir and there is nothing particularly official as far as web presence for the artist is concerned. A bit more insight is given by the PR material saying that the main theme here is the struggles of Russian peasantry, the traditional values of the country and those forgotten in the winds of time. It is also the second part of an informal trilogy following on from 2012 album ‘The Dawns Are Drifted As Before’

After this all that is left to give more insight is the music itself and the very descriptive track titles. Essentially we get four somewhat epic compositions built between brief intro and outro piece. After a haunting start the first of these ‘Now Only Abyss Hears Us’ bristles in with a pagan feel immediately behind it with some deft and atmospheric guitar work. I don’t know whether it is particularly politically correct to compare a Russian act with a Ukrainian one at the moment but straight away I was reminded of Forgotten Legends era Drudkh here as this flows around with a maudlin touch that evocatively has pride and history at its heart. Shrill indignant shrieking vocals join in, back in the mix a bit but adding to the overall themes and ideology perfectly despite the fact that I have no idea what they are saying. Some lush acoustic parts and a bit of a progressive air add to it and I am already immersed with the dreamlike flow of the music. There’s some great melody behind this and the atmosphere it conveys through weaving guitar work gets under the skin; the track having no problem keeping interest throughout its running time. A slight folk touch that is full of sorrow and could easily be from the very essence of the central Russian peasant heart wraps it up before the title track ups the ante and comes in without a seconds pause. Flailing guitar work speeds up the approach and the solo here is dextrously handled before we again go into acoustic part with quiet lamenting sounds in the background whispering away like ghosts. There are some keyboards utilised here too but they are not particularly noticeable catching you off guard, also the bass work becomes more noticeable as the track goes on, everything having a somewhat subtle voice. Suddenly I also realise that weeping melody is coming at me via strings, there’s plenty going on and it’s well worth taking the time to listen out for it within the intricacies of the piece.

Sorrow and loss are there right at the forefront again with the melody of ‘Distant Haze Was Arising.’ The mood is quickly lightened though and this gets into a bit of a shoegaze, post black mind-frame which brings to mind early Alcest, Lantlos and even Austere. Moments of beautiful fragility merge with a buffering brutality and it’s all expertly handled in a way that has me finding different things and enjoying this more on each consecutive listen. With just four main tracks it really makes choosing one as a favourite an impossible task but that’s no problem as at under 40 minutes long this seems to have done a great job at keep enticing me back for further plays. Last of these ‘With The Birds Farewell Song’ starts with a crackly recording and more ghost like voices from the past before the harmony builds gently, caressing the listener with a warmth and feel of comfort that is fragrant and completely captivating. It matters not that there are no vocals and we have gone beyond the dimensions of black metal here as I am caught up waiting and knowing that they are going to reappear and drench things in a poignant and thoughtful embrace makes it all the more compelling.

This literally came out of nowhere and completely caught me by surprise, listen below and find out for yourself why this one man project really deserves to emerge from the shadows and be heard by a much wider audience.

(8/10 Pete Woods)