Bhleg are a Swedish duo formed in 2013, and having recently released their second album in 2018, now return with an EP of folky, earthy, organic black metal. “Aril” boasts a deceptively thin production low fidelity masking a rather glorious epic soundscape, with each of the three tracks getting respectively shorter in length as the EP progresses.

Whilst embracing traditional core elements from the second wave of black metal such as raw tremolo-picked riffage and pounding, blasting drums, Bhleg also encompass many additional aspects. Notable is the repetition of hypnotic droning motifs, as well as the building of layers on these motifs and themes, with a mixture of slow, fast and mid-tempo passages amongst the material on offer.

Opener “Vittra Och Do” teases the listener by switching fire at the halfway point with an acoustic interlude, before the main riff returns with subtle choral vocals. It features stirring keyboards which ape a dulcimer sound, supplying thick atmospherics. “Fran Eld Till Aska” seques into “Skordetid” with a slow riff and the aforementioned dulcimer sound, before a distorted bass riff takes centre stage. Throughout, we are treated to those stirring synths and subtle chorus that support the basic four beat and lo-fi guitars.

All in all, an intriguingly mesmerising piece of work that cements Bhleg’s reputation for grand, compelling folk-flavoured black metal.

(7/10 Doogz)