Even the most gnarly metal fan needs an occasional break from relentless aural pummelling and as I get a little older I have found myself exploring some of these avenues with increasing frequency.

Norwegian multi-instrumentalist Sylvaine first came to my attention a few years ago with her outstanding debut release ‘Silent Chamber, Noisy Heart’ in 2014, which received high praise and earned her a support slot with French shoegazers Alcest. Her 2016 sophomore ‘Wistful’ raised the bar further and is an album I still play regularly, and so it is fair to say that my expectations were high for full length number three, ‘Atoms Aligned, Coming Undone’.

The title track opens the album with a long brooding intro which slowly builds into an atmospheric eight minute post rock opus. The music is captivating as it builds and Sylvaine draws you unwittingly into her complex world with haunting vocals, and by the end of the track her vocals are floating ethereally atop frenetic drumming.

The atmosphere is maintained with ‘Mørklagt’ which is sung in Sylvaine’s native Norwegian adding to the ambience. The track soon evolves into a pummelling post black metal epic with harsh vocals strikingly contrasting with  Sylvaine’s more usual delicate (yet powerful) style, complemented by drumming from Neige of Alcest.

‘Abeyance’ is more melancholic before a tranquil ‘Worlds Collide’ which almost feels cathartic in nature. Atmospheric post metal is back to the fore for ‘Severance’ before ‘L’Appel du Vide’ acts as the perfect album closer pulling everything together with an appropriate sense of closure.

This album is Sylvaine’s strongest to date effortlessly combining atmospheric elements, post rock, post black metal and captivating vocals, perfectly balancing the harsh with the serene and the frantic with the tranquil. It is elaborate and intricate work of sublime beauty and highly recommended.

(9/10 Andy Pountney)