You know, when 2019 came around I actually realized just how many awesome bands were going to put out albums very soon for us to eat right up and for me to go crazy over. I still have acts like Inter Arma, Zaum, Whispered, Cattle Decapitation, Wormwood, and so much more as only two albums I had anticipated have made their glory fly into my ears. But one that I wasn’t expecting for at least another year is that of Dwarrowdelf. This Tolkien-influenced black metal act is one that I greatly respect, and to see such immense growth in less than a year after his phenomenal debut is a treat I can’t pass up nor can I stop listening to.
What makes this album particularly special for me is quite trifold: (1) Dwarrowdelf’s previous effort, “The Sons of Feanor”, made out to be my third favorite record of last year with “Curufin” still being one of my favorites tracks from 2018, (2) I’ve only just recently gotten back into swimming through Middle-Earth lore as my copy of “The Children of Hurin” came in but the other day, and (3) I really wanted to hear where Dwarrowdelf would take its sound next but I wasn’t expecting to see it for quite some time. Turns out, my patience was quite unnecessary as Dwarrowdelf clearly doesn’t stay still for long as the upcoming record, “Of Dying Lights”, consists of six fresh new tracks that both expand and tweak what we got with the first album, and then there’s a performance of “Homeward” which is a cover of Sojourner’s original song (this version even features vocals from Sojourner’s vocalist to make it even more authentic and awesome).
They say a rushed product is a bad product and some people might feel releasing your second full-length not a year after your first would lead to bad material, but that couldn’t be any further from the truth with “Of Dying Light”. And in all honesty, I have a single lament regarding this album: the vocals. It’s not that they’re bad – they’re absolutely spectacular! – but more of the lack of harsh vocals from the man behind Dwarrowdelf himself where the only harsh vocals come in the form of a guest’s (Jack Reynolds of Sojourner, as previously mentioned), which are also fantastic. I really enjoyed all the vocals from “The Sons of Feanor”, especially the balance between the two styles, but the clean vocals for the vast majority of the album are impeccable to say the least. They create a much smoother experience that makes “Of Dying Lights” an exquisitely atmospheric album from front to back while the black metal is still very much there in the instruments from the guitars to the keys to the drums. It all comes back together to create an album that soars through choice cuts from Middle-Earth, turning them into gripping songs that are both beautiful and uncompromising as we revisit the daily rise and fall of Arien’s light, a generational hunt for vengeance, an instrumental tribute to the two Trees of Valinor, and plenty more as Dwarrowdelf brings them to the studio in immense fashion with undeniable talent. Black metal focused on anything Tolkien-related is far from rare, but it’s with Dwarrowdelf and “Of Dying Lights” that we see it in some of its most organic and ethereal forms that are ever so enticing.
It’s many times that I find myself surprised by something I probably should’ve seen coming, but in every way does it amaze me to an amazing degree in its entirety. Without a doubt, Dwarrowdelf has done that yet again for me. A return to Middle-Earth with this guy at the helm is something that I needed, and it’s with “Of Dying Lights” that we get a truly gorgeous approach to the style that is filled with character, heart, understanding of the respective lore, and fantastic musicianship that is all-consuming in the best way.
“Of Dying Lights” releases on March 30 via Flowing Downward!
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