It was an ancient kingdom, its many kilometers of hills and fields flanked by endless ocean. Its people spoke in many languages, some of which carry on today while others faded long ago. After centuries of independence, it was rich in culture and its own history, before it was conquered and divided by armies from far away.
The land was called Northumbria and, despite its existence from 634CE to 954CE, it is usually only discussed by scholars and historians. For this reason, Dr. Mark Deeks PhD has made it his mission to bring the past to life with his new solo project ARÐ and its debut album, Take Up My Bones.
While musically distant from Winterfylleth, Dr. Deeks' internationally known black metal band, ARÐ is very much doom metal project. Atmospheric like Funeral but even more orchestra and piano driven than fellow British doom legends My Dying Bride.
Lyrically based on the story of St. Cuthbert, the patron saint of Northumbria whose feast days are still celebrated over 1,300 years later, every track serves as a portal back to a world so different than the one known by the people and cities that occupy the same land today. The choir and organ driven title track is both haunting and reverent; a perfect dirge for someone ancient and holy. Doom metal fans might find this track comparable to Katatonia or Draconian.
In a slower approach to the style of Panopticon, "Raise then the Incorruptible Body" tells the tale of how eleven years after his passing, Cuthbert's body was exhumed and found to be perfectly preserved, or, uncorrupted by death. For those looking for a bit more music than words, stay tuned for "Boughs of Trees", a beautiful piano and string instrumental track.
The Metal Mayan rating: 5/5
An excellent doom album is a lot like a classical album: you listen for the whole experience instead of one or two select tracks. It is wonderful that not only is there an album that covers a tragically underrepresented time in world history, but it was crafted by an artist with an academic background in the subject.
That said, I particularly enjoyed the title track for its somber tone. I would certainly listen to it while taking a walk through a historic site or a cemetery. I believe I included Winterfylleth in my Bachelor's thesis on world history and culture in heavy metal; I'm sure Dr. Deeks and I would have plenty to talk about.
Check out ARÐ on Bandcamp and purchase a copy of Take Up My Bones, out 18 February via Prophecy Productions.
Advance copy courtesy of Secret Service PR and Prophecy Productions