Providing a lethal concoction of black metal, funeral doom, and drone across 57 minutes, this album is a harrowing and affecting journey into lost faith and existential crisis. It’s powerful, and an album that is clearly special upon even the first listen; repeated visits merely reinforce how exceptional it is.
On some parts of Cairn the album is powered by a vicious blackened intensity that grabs your attention forcibly, riven by melody that sears into your soul. At other points we get mournful funeral doom, rich in feeling and crushing emotion, which makes its weighty presence known in no uncertain terms. Softer moments of reflection appear too, blunting the sharp blackened assault or providing release from the slow, sorrowful doom.
The use of melody here is almost intoxicating when it appears, providing an emotive force that propels the album forward with bleak character and apocalyptic grace. Melody is not always required, however, as the artist is perfectly capable of driving home the full emotive force of despair and loss without it. A lot of care, attention to detail, and intelligent focus has clearly gone into the creation of Cairn, but I imagine a lot of emotion was poured into it too; Cairn drips with the stuff, regardless of whether it’s despondently baring its heart, or raging and tearing at an absurd world. Either way, this is an album based around emotion.
These long songs are each exemplars of how to produce highly enjoyable and satisfying black/doom hybrids. There’s real substance and depth here, and plenty of reasons to return to the album and soak up the negative auras it gives off in waves.
Cairns is pretty much as essential a listen as you’re going to get for a blackened doom release. Masterful.