DarkherWe have been waiting patiently to be taken into Dark(h)er Realms with this debut album following on from sublime EP release The Kingdom Field in 2014. Luckily a couple of enchanting live performances at Doom Over London and with Ahab have bridged the gap between releases and we have even caught a couple of these tracks on stage. The trio’s brand of musical sorcery was an instant match for label Prophecy and the biggest surprise was discovering that they actually come from West Yorkshire. Fronted by vocalist and bassist Jayn H. Wissenberg, enhanced by husband Martin T Wissenberg guitars and Shaun ‘Winter’ Taylor-Steels Drums it took just one quick listen to be totally ensnared by their musical spells. I don’t think I was alone either, as at the aforementioned gigs they completely captivated the audience and in the silent moments it is not an exaggeration to say that you could have heard a pin drop such was the mesmerising spell they had cast upon us. Caught up in this I did at the time say they had the scope to go very far and maybe even get as much recognition as the likes of Chelsea Wolfe. The question is will this debut album match up to the garnered praise?

The dreamscape unveils with the slow ebbing tones of Spirit Walker in a form much more Dead Can Dance than The Cult. The instrumentation builds like filigree and shadow, throbbing and glistening into ‘Hollow Veil’ which unveils a melodic riff before the voice comes in and catches like a fly in a spiders web. Finally a drum beat joins in and along with the doom laden full flow of the instrumentation slowly crushes in the weighty grip. The melodicism and the dramatic flow are second to none and with the vocal croons billowing like fog the overall poetry of things is very much in motion. Yes is the answer to that previous praise, this has got the scope to get huge recognition and that’s just after the opening couple of numbers. The problem is getting people to hear it but then again do we really want to, can’t this just be our deep and dark, delicious secret? At times such as the gentle melody of the gorgeous Moths (and I hate the damn things and have a phobia about them) the acoustic melody reminds a little of the likes of Muse and Radiohead so there is no denying the commercial appeal is here. Put together with Jayn’s vocals which are up there with the very best and the prospect here is absolutely as huge as the music at its peak. Songs are slow burning though, they draw you in to their arms and caress without any real urgency before a passionate kiss is delivered and you are forevermore lost to their embrace.

‘Wars’ has a ghostly throb about it as though it is calling to lost souls from conflicts past before a near Joy Division drum tattoo takes up a militaristic quickstep. The melody comes thick and shivers are running up and down the spine in formation along with it and the commanding vocals. Perhaps this review has taken an all too poetic path but the effect of everything simply can’t be ignored. ‘The Dawn Brings A Saviour’ is a gorgeous acoustic lullaby, any children this outfit bears fruit to will certainly be very well catered for but so are we as this one sways gently over us. It is as though we have songs about birth and death here as the two part ‘Buried’ suggests the first part drawing in like a cold Lynchian Murder Ballad which develops into a dark place full of gloom and shadows via a weeping string melody that’s full of tears. Suddenly the drums act like the brutality of murder itself and this has taken the imagination right down to the tomb as the vocals tell us they have “died a thousand ways.” The story here will fully capture as much as the drama of the music itself. ‘Foregone’ bristles with a big percussive backbone which sounds absolutely massive, the choral flow of the vocals build and guitars shimmer and shine as everything trembles and quakes with a near biblical and epic presence. It’s probably the track with the most going on in it musically and it’s an all-consuming experience. Far too quickly it seems we are at the end with ‘Lament’ left to do as described. Acoustic guitar and drums patter like raindrops and the vocals fall like teardrops as this song for the sirens immerses with a huge sense of emotion and atmosphere. If this doesn’t touch you then you are cold grey and dead.

‘Realms’ has transported me to places, some beautiful and some very dark, it’s gorgeous, haunting and sublime. As it finishes playing I am left with a void and know it won’t be long until I revisit and get caught up once more. This is every bit an essential purchase as catching the band will be when they play with SubRosa in October. Listen with your soul and heart and spread the magic!

(9/10 Pete Woods)