Roughly four years after Bhleg’s enjoyable debut album Draumr Ást appeared, the band have now returned with a colossal new album; Solarmegin is a 98-minute celebration of the sun. Yes, that’s right; this album is a big one.
Bhleg have produced a rich and textured collection of music on Solarmegin. This is a vast and sprawling collection of songs that sees the band’s folk-influenced black metal spread out over the huge playing time with confidence and conviction. Folk instrumentation and influences are combined with second wave aggression and atmospheric black metal naturally and gracefully, resulting in songs that are multifaceted and quite satisfying.
When the band aren’t tearing out blast beats, I like how rhythmically percussive the drums can sometimes get, adding a ritualistic tribal feel in places. I also like the way that the band use melody in the music; although a vital component of the songs, it rarely becomes the music’s sole focus. Solarmegin is also a deeply atmospheric album in multiple ways, which is also enhanced by the ubiquitous birdsong that appears at select places throughout.
There’s somewhat of a hypnotic, almost meditative, flavour to this album, which is something that I usually associate with certain doom releases rather than folk/black metal ones. I think this is at least partially to do with the composition of the rhythm guitars, and how they just kind of wash you away with their flowing distortion, while the harsh vocals shout and shriek over the top.
The raw nature of the production continues to work for Bhleg, rather than against them, and doesn’t hinder the band’s performance one bit. If you take a 90s underground black metal band, stretch out the songs so that atmosphere is first and foremost on your mind, and then add in folk elements, (acoustic influences, chants, melodies, etc). then you’ll have an idea of what Solarmegin sounds like, at least in spirit.
It’s easy to lose yourself in Bhleg’s evocative world of sun worship, and despite the extreme length of this album, if find myself enjoying it immensely. As much as I enjoyed Draumr Ást, this new release is superior in every way.
Very highly recommended.