Well, I know it’s Thanksgiving Day, but for most retailers, Black Friday has already begun. So, it’s only fitting that we kick off Black Metal Friday 2016 with a black metal review. This year, we’re doing Mavradoxa‘s debut full length, Sojourners. The band hails from Rochester, NY, and after only a few months with their current lineup, they’re really making a name for themselves in the Buffalo/Rochester area.
To call this a black metal release and leave it at that doesn’t do Sojourners justice. There’s a lot more going on with these songs that needs to be addressed. The opening track, “Tempest of Dreams” has a certain groove to it that reminds me of Tristania’s older material (Beyond the Veil era). The string work, drums, and vocals all intertwine perfectly to establish a familiar atmospheric sound, while leaving room for something new and fresh that hasn’t quite been present in the genre yet. Although these guys aren’t reinventing the wheel here, there’s something to be said about the way this band conveys an already well established sound.
Lately, atmospheric black metal like this has really been punching through the recycled layers of djent breakdowns and metalcore riffs, which have become quite prevalent in our scene (and beyond). Bands like Mavradoxa, Sertraline and Enthauptung are really opening doors for a more fleshed out, enrapturing experience for black metal fans, new and old. I urge all fans of Immortal, Emperor, Windir, Wolves in the Throne Room, or local black metal authorities, Hubris, to check all three of those artists out.
Getting back to Sojourners, Mavradoxa have released a 5 track odyssey, clocking in at around 40 minutes (the average track length being 7 1/2 to 8 minutes in length). Despite the longer songs, there’s nothing boring about this music. The 5 separate journeys on this album take listeners into cold, desolate Norwegian winters, via dark and foreboding guitar work and haunting vocals (both harsh rasps, classic for the genre and choir style clean singing). The acoustic/clean guitar intro on the 3rd track, “Enshrouded in Dawn” is fantastic and really ties the entire album together in my opinion. It’s got the right amount of melancholy and daunting despair to speak volumes about the entire release. This is not only my favorite Mavradoxa song (for all the diversity in the guitars and vocals), but it’s also the longest on the album, clocking in at 13:39. I can’t say enough about how interesting this song is. Don’t let these track lengths discourage you from giving the whole album a fair listen.
I could be wrong, but I also hear quite a bit of Insomnium influence in the guitar work. The intro of the 4th track, “My Bones Become the Roots” is a perfect example. Whether it was intentional or not, classic melancholic melodic death metal (with Finnish roots) seems to make an intermittent appearance on this album. I can’t help but be reminded (at least a little) of Insomnium’s latest release, Winter’s Gate, which is a 40 minute epic tale of its own.
At this juncture, I can’t say anymore about Mavradoxa’s Sojourners, other than for my readers to give it a listen and see where you stand. Personally, I’m very curious to see what 2017 has in store for these guys. I’ll be checking in frequently.
As always, thanks for reading and check out a sample of Mavradoxa’s music below: