Here we have a single 30-minute track that’s a mix of atmospheric and post-black metal. The track is a nature-influenced apocalyptic soundscape that combines elements from the Cascadian style of black metal with mournful post-metallic aspects.
The music is infused with sorrowful emotion, and the band’s obvious passion for their art and the subject matter comes through strongly. The songwriting is intricate and nuanced, as you might expect from a band with three guitarists, although all of the musicians are clearly skilled at what they do. The atmosphere developed across the song is built masterfully and the music offers an absorbing experience.
The song offers a layered and multifaceted journey into a ravaged world. The album has a very satisfying recording and production, and everything from the rich distortion to the solid drums and the blackened screams and growls sounds great. Alongside the darkness of tone and aggressive tendencies you’d expect from anything blackened, there’s a beauty here that’s rare in black metal. After all, nature may be red in tooth and claw, but it’s also resplendent with beauty and awe. The Arch Holder depicts this well.
One of the notable things about Aylwin is how adept they are at crafting emotive passages and thoughtful compositions. Melodies are used to colour the shape of the music and enhance its emotional appeal. Rather than adopting a starring role in its own right, it’s frequently a supporting character that is indispensable to the cast as a whole.
Aylwin’s debut album has been worth the wait. The Arch Holder is a sprawling, epic journey through damaged nature and hopeful beauty.
Essential listening for any fan of post-blackened atmospheric journeys.