Sivyj Yar – The Unmourned Past (2016)


SY front finalIt doesn’t look or sound par­tic­u­larly summery—despite being released for the sum­mer solstice—but The Unmourned Past was the soundtrack to quite a few warm nights earlier this year. It’s one of those records that make the most of the EP length, filling twenty-two minutes with per­fectly pro­por­tioned mel­an­cholic black metal.

The title sug­gests that the songs on this EP, like those on earlier albums, might be about Slavic myth and days gone by, but as with much music sung in lan­guages I don’t speak—let alone when brought in a kind of ghostly scream–wail—I start to focus more on the gen­eral atmo­sphere, which still is one of loss and sad­ness. The tempo moves from brisk walks to full gal­lops; the instru­mentarium is warm, with a full bass gui­tar and sharp riffs off­set by subtle string back­ings; the col­ours: black and grey.

The EP is darker and more intense than its pre­de­cessors, Burial Shrouds and From The Dead Vil­lages’ Dark­ness, which took some excel­lent cues from early Agal­loch and Alcest sounds. On those records, sole mem­ber Vladi­mir reserved moments for brighter and gentler sec­tions to off­set some of the gloom and mel­an­choly. Here, those moments are absent. We’re left with music that chan­nels men­tal and spir­itual strife, without ever opt­ing for the kind of cold or bleak sound that rep­res­ents the easi­est path for black metal to take. For me, it was able to sim­ul­tan­eously express internal struggle, as well as provide the energy neces­sary to wrestle through it.

How­ever good the earlier works were, The Unmourned Past shows that if Vladi­mir focuses solely on the com­pos­i­tional ele­ments that are more unique to him, the res­ult is extraordin­ar­ily focused and power­ful. It’s as yet unclear whether the EP is a one-off styl­istic excur­sion, or if it marks a new dir­ec­tion for the pro­ject, but if it’s the lat­ter, we should be anti­cip­at­ing any com­ing album even more than usual.