Since their first EP offering in 2014, Tongues have kept a low profile. The Danes haven’t been lying idle though. Mixing black, death and doom metal, they have now released their debut full length, “Hreilia”; a dark dreamscape steeped in mysticism and spiritual bleakness. C. Qvortrup provided the lyrics and has managed to explore blackened realms where a sense of hope gradually fades away over the course of the album’s 42 minutes.

What sounds like movement through calm waters accompanied by an off kilter guitar, “Perennial Waves” is a dark introduction with semi whispered vocals creating an otherworldly ambience. Mystery, intrigue and fear lurk amongst psychedelic textures but with an element of danger that piques the senses. Then the whole thing kicks off stunningly with desperation and a vocal turn towards traditional black metal roars. A progressive tone along the lines of Opeth build and although not as smooth, there’s a chaotic aura that is mentally challenging and emotionally enthralling. T. Lovmand’s tortured bass drives “Theophagous Wounds Of Earth” where the band steer towards doomier territory. The mix of restraint and aggression makes for a potent delivery before a Celtic Frost tinged gallop punctuates the track. Slightly thin, razor sharp atmospheres build on “…And The Ever Watchful Clouds” with hushed, guttural vocals over an oddly slanted guitar tone. There’s less reliance on blunt force riffs with what feels like a greater commitment to crafting a doleful soundscape along with drums that lie a little further back and spiral away.

There’s a purposeful, downward drive that forms the undercurrent of this album. Layers keep developing musically and lyrically; “Grove Of Mithridate” being a point in case with a whirlpool of darkness that is unrelenting and one of the more brutal tracks so far. Melodic interludes accentuate the hopelessness and when coupled with following track “Acumen Numinous”, we have a powerful climactic moment in the making. These two longest tracks are compelling statements of blending styles with classic black metal overtures moving into atmospheric, doom laden ceremonial auras. Sombre moments of bleakness are blown apart by intensity and chaos. Sudden time changes make for a provocative and rewarding listen where we’re left “suspended over the pits of torment” before the finality in the drones of title track “Hreilia”.

Tongues have delivered a clever, engaging album that is sure to garner interest. The mix of styles and the conceptual way the album has been constructed makes for an emotive piece that will demand further attention.

(8/10 Johnny Zed)