I’ve got to be honest, I think I initially bit off a bit much when I volunteered to review this one. Totally my fault, I was unfamiliar with the band, saw the artwork, scanned through a brief description and thought I was in for something along the lines or Orchid or maybe Witchcraft. I know, I know, but just because it’s not what I expected doesn’t mean it isn’t good!
The Flight Of Sleipnir’s sound IS based in the realms of epic stoner/doom, but with hints of Pagan folk through to more extreme metal. Agalloch spring to mind overall and are a decent benchmark if you (like me) are unfamiliar to TFOS. It’s all about the Epic as only two of the 7 tracks on offer here are under 7 minutes long (and only just at that!). The first part of the opener throws me every time I hear it though, as it is clean sung and has a real 70’s prog/Caravan style vibe, reminiscent of Rise Above’s Astra, before the band get into their slow, heavy, pounding, gloomier stride, with extreme almost Black style vocals, which gives things an air of Primordial and Fen.
As the album progresses, this balance of styles crops up throughout “V”, light and shade swap places to great effect in every arrangement, securing the fact that TFOS’s strength lies in their riff-laden soundscapes. The vocals are almost an afterthought as the guitars take centre stage. Each song oozes heaviness as well as melancholy – but also melody. They build or regress a song effortlessly, never hurried, just…deep! ‘The Casting’ deserves a mention for blending melody so well with heaviness that it reminded me of something at home on Opeth’s “Still Life”, but it’s difficult to single out individual tracks when each song has hidden gems all mixed together with a great flow.
Flow! That’s the word I was looking for! From start to finish each song flows…and with that the whole album does likewise. It’s difficult to really dip in and out of “V”, as it’s an album that deserves…no, demands to be heard in it’s entirety, a vast leviathan, striding it’s way from seething malevolence to ambient tranquillity and back again. A journey that I’ve enjoyed sharing with them. My initial doubts are now forgotten – It’s nice to feel like I lost a quid and found a tenner!
(7.5/10 Andy Barker)