Nothing quite hits the spot like a new Eïs release and this one comes just in time for the bleakest, coldest time of the year. Eïs has perfected windswept black metal with some very subtle hints of folk as well as gothic touches, often through the use of acoustic instruments such as guitar or piano. But the thrill of the band is down to their combination of beautifully pitched, melancholy atmospheres with epic, ice-cold wall-of-sound riffs. Eïs (pretty much vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Alboin with a few collaborators including Abarus on lead guitars) changed its name from Geist after legal action from a similarly named German band. But Eïs managed to put that trifling issue firmly behind them and went on to produce two of their best albums with Wetterkreuz and 2015’s Bannstein. This release is their first release in more than two years, and their first ever EP, but it acts as a very nice 22 minute stop gap to what will hopefully be another full length around the corner.

In a fairly crowded field of epically inclined black metal band’s, Eïs continues to stand a cut above thanks to maintaining a restrained subtlety to those infectiously melodic grooves and issuing forth gale force riffs that require an emergency weather warning. The first track begins with a frosty pinch harmonic that fades neatly into a steady riff which in turn gradually builds and evolves into a classic black storm of a track, all the while backed by drifting melancholy piano. The second track, the longer of the two, carries on where the last one left off – taking the lingering, lonely piano sound and then plunging headlong into an imperial blast of sound. Alboin’s vocals, pitched to sound like a guttural cry being carried on the blizzard roar of the band’s round, if anything feel even more engulfed here than on previous releases but that only adds to the sense of the frenzied ranting cries being carried along on the swirling torrent.

As ever, the entire production is best consumed in a single sitting, allowing the grandiose soundscape delivered by Alboin and crew to take on its full effect. These are two tracks – in fact four of five tracks if you include the shifts along the way – which would be a fine introduction to the epic and bleak black metal of Eïs or else a must for existing fans. And it’s tempting to assume from this that the last couple of Eïs albums were a warm up for something even more stunning down the line.

(8.5/10 Reverend Darkstanley)