This is the fifth album from one-woman experimental black metal band Cicada the Burrower.
The follow up to 2021’s very enjoyable Corpseflower, Blight Witch Regalia brings us 31 minutes of new material from this talented artist. Although tagged as black metal, this record has moved on from that description really. Fans of the classic blackened sound are unlikely to get much from Cicada the Burrower, but those open to a different interpretation of a hybridised trip hop/black metal style will find much to get excited about on Blight Witch Regalia.
Blight Witch Regalia combines a range of influences and styles into what can loosely be termed experimental/post-black metal. I stress the word ‘loosely’ here. Elements of jazz and electronica are woven tightly around the core of the music, underpinning much of it, in fact. In many ways this is more of a trip hop album than anything else, only one that’s spliced with blackened DNA. Electronic beats and industrial blackened malice share space with uplifting jazz moods and dreamy beauty. Some tracks are entirely without their black metal influences.
The album reminds me a little of some of the experimental releases from that time at the end of the classic second wave era, when certain bands were pushing their sound further and further into uncharted waters – acts like Ulver, Dødheimsgard, In the Woods…, etc. – bands that wanted to do something newer and different with their sound. The music of Cicada the Burrower almost fits right at home here, with the caveat that this record has arguably a different set of influences, one which more reflects the trip hop and electronica in the music.
No, this is no throwback record; Blight Witch Regalia offers a contemporary journey through the artist’s vision for her music, and what a compelling one it is. The entire album is immersive and engaging, and delivers a curious balance between dark hostility and an overwhelming sense of joyous vibrancy. It’s actually probably balanced more towards the latter than the former, which is quite startling to realise considering how much I generally favour the former in my music. Either way, Blight Witch Regalia is a captivating record that any fan of the more experimental strains of extreme music should seek out immediately.
The artist behind Cicada the Burrower continues to impress with her highly enjoyable material. This is a project that definitely deserves to be picked up by a larger label, as sadly I fear that this is destined to remain an underground gem. On a different note, I can’t help but feel that something like this screams out for a collaborative work with an act like The Body or Nadja.
Regardless of what the future holds for Cicada the Burrower, in the here and now we have the wonderful Blight Witch Regalia, and that’s more than enough.