Black metal and high fantasy have always gone together like Mortiis and elf ears, so it’s natural that Serena Cherry found her inspiration for Noctule in the world of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The forthcoming Wretched Abyss album is the first release from Cherry’s one-woman black metal project, but Decibel readers may know her as the guitarist and vocalist of post-metal outfit Svalbard, or for her 2018 editorial.
On Wretched Abyss, Cherry conjures up mental images of snow-covered mountaintops and cold dungeons. Tremolo-picked melodies and reverb-soaked vocals give the music a hypnotic, dreamlike quality even in its most aggressive moments and a soaring feeling of adventure in its most sublime. Musically, there are definite similarities to bands like Agalloch and Noctem Aeternus.
On “Labyrinthian,” premiering below, Noctule dig deeper into the link between Nordic history and Skyrim while building to one of the album’s best and most triumphant moments at the end of the song.
Cherry explains some of the logic behind the song, as well as the section of the game that inspired this particular song.
“‘Labyrinthian is a song about my favorite dungeon in The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim,” Cherry tells Decibel. “It is an ode to the ancient Nordic ruin that was originally built by a dragon cult as a temple to the dragons. I love the haunting atmosphere in this dungeon, and the surprising twists and turns of the quest where you follow the group of ghostly mages through the dungeon. With this song I tried to capture the rich history of Laybrinthian, within the context of the overarching glory and sorrows of Winterhold.
“The intertwining guitar leads and the clean choral singing in this track are some of my proudest musical moments I’ve ever composed. The climax of the song is a musical illustration of the rising to the challenge to defeat Morokei and obtain the Staff of Magnus.”