UK black metal stormbringers Gyrdleah formed as a solo-member project by Satanic mastermind Flagrum. Based in Birmingham, Gyrdleah released an introductory EP (Passage into the Night) before hibernating through some turbulent times. But this Friday the silence officially shatters with the black magic and blasphemy of a new LP. Spellbinder is a hypnotic offering of brooding black metal and depressive doom that stomps through the cemetery across 41 minutes. Decibel Magazine invoked the dark arts to share this early premiere of Gyrdleah’s Spellbinder a couple days before the album’s April 21st release from Black Lion Records.
From the first diseased notes of “Stab the Lamb,” Spellbinder favors dusky skies and ashen atmosphere over raw blasts. But that doesn’t mean session drummer Alex Micklewright is reduced to a corpsepainted metronome. Micklewright’s punchy performance adds life to a subgenre that often succumbs to dreary droning. By deliberately staying true to a downcast tempo, the record achieves a pensive mid-paced majesty punctuated by bursts of frost and fury. Dark guitar melodies shape album standout “Gathered for the Murder.” Later, “Six Hundred Threescore and Six” features the album’s most prominent passages of clean singing. Flagrum’s commitment to a defining sense of gloom packs the album with gothic dread down to the outro’s haunted horrorscape.
Engineered and mixed by Chris Fielding of Conan, the record is downcast and dense as forest fog. The cover painting by Robert Davis shares a human skull that brings to mind Van Gogh’s uneasy post-impressionism. It’s more about invoking the imagery of a skull than creating a detailed photo-realistic still life. Such is Flagrum’s approach: in a realm of copycats, Gyrdleah is a distinct expression of bleak, blackened dread.
“Spellbinder for me is both a journey and turning point for Gyrdleah,” Flagrum reveals. “[The album] represents a great and unholy reckoning that began with my own struggles and reawakening. With this long awaited return and debut album, I intended it to act as dark spell in which the listener is directly involved in this invocation of dark art and nature. I surrendered to the inner self and tried to forget what I’d known. To me, your darkest fears are those that cannot be seen. Alone I was cursed to travel without return. But finally, as if by magic, the abyss extended a hand and Spellbinder is the sacrilegious result. So, I’m sure with this release and with the devil at your back, spellbound you shall also be.”
Press play below and take a passage into the night with Gyrdleah.