When you’re sent a promo for a one man black metal project from the Ukraine, where the song titles are all in Cyrillic and the album art involves trees, you can guess where this is going. I’m very much torn on the fate of Ildverden, whose new record ‘Temnich Chorna Jde Za Mnoyu’ (Black Midnight Follows Me) is out now on Satanath Records.
The reason I’m torn here is because I think the album is great, but it doesn’t do much that is different from every other one man Eastern European black metal band. And I think its fate may suffer from that, but what Ildverden have delivered here is a record of very traditional black metal, laced with ghostly keyboard moments and a throaty rasp that all comes together to be this icy, majestic piece of black art. The drums are dry, the riffing is relentless and cold, and the bleakness of what is on display is frightening.
The songs are lengthy, and the the centrepiece of ‘Völuspá’ is a titanic twenty one minutes. Now that is a journey; through pagan times in ancient forests, where the blizzards leave animals cowering, trees groaning and adds a ghostly white death to the folklore of the old woods. From Darkthrone to Immortal, the legends are very much at work behind the scenes here, but the windswept grace of fellow Ukrainian black metallers is defiantly on show here. Wolves howl in the background of the furious ‘Dark Distance Rised’, and rain trickles over the start of ‘Völuspá’, and you can almost feel nature come alive through each riff.
But I wonder just how far quality musicianship can take Ildverden. Sadly its almost not enough to be just good, no, GREAT, at what you do anymore. It needs to be something unique, something strange, something controversial. At no point does ‘Black Midnight Follows Me’ jump out with any of those qualities, but yet at the same time, it is a magical, ethereal journey through tried and trusted black metal majesty. And that should celebrated as much.