North America has a rich heritage when it comes to atmospheric black metal with bands such as Wolves in the Throne Room, Agalloch, Alda and Panopticon having evolved a style of their own, evoking images of desolate landscapes and dense north American forests.
Mavradoxa are another such band, hailing from upstate New York and having firmly set out their stall on previous releases as pedlars of atmospheric black and post black metal in a similar vein to their compatriots, and I was keen to give their latest release a listen.
‘Nightmarrow’ doesn’t mess around with superfluous intros and gets straight down to business with ‘Maple’ which sounds almost upbeat as a repetitive rhythmic riffs lays the foundation upon which the track is built. As the track progresses, melodic interludes sit comfortably with harsh vocals before leading into ‘The Carrion Shade’. This has a more sinister atmosphere, with incisive vocals and a maleficent melody underpinning it. As the nine minute opus builds the mood shifts becoming more melancholic particularly during the second half of the track where an instrumental section creates a pensively brooding ambience which ultimately becomes hypnotic until the track fades.
The title track follows, and is another nine minute epic. Following a relatively serene opening, the track builds to a dense soundscape before relenting into an instrumental section. This, of course, does not last and soon doomy black metal tomes are swirling around until the track finally acquiesces and fades out into ‘Rustling Leaves’ which is a brief acoustic hiatus.
Clocking in at nearly eleven minutes, ‘Black Crystal Snowfall’ follows, once more creating a bleak mood with solid riffing and tormented vocals but could really have done with being a few minutes shorter. The album is brought to a close with placid, but haunting acoustic piece ‘Umbra’ which is very effective in giving a sense of completion.
This is not a bad album at all, and invokes images of forsaken forests as well as perhaps bleak urban landscapes at times but may have been a little more effective if a few of the tracks had been trimmed a little. There is plenty of talent on display here and the band clearly has a lot of potential, but this is not the finished article yet. I will however, be keeping an eye on future releases as this band has great potential.
Afternote: After writing the review, I was disappointed to see on the Mavradoxa facebook page that the band have called it a day. We wish them all the best with their future endeavours and look forward to hearing more musical output from them in different guises.
(7/10 Andy Pountney)