This is the second full length from Pennsylvania dungeon synth/black metal project Strixskog. Their past releases were more of an atmospheric and dungeon synth approach, but this is the first full length that’s fully black metal. While still holding many of the melodic emphasis from previous release, the different direction is an interesting experiment and a great stab at the sound.
This album has a very clean and crisp sound, the production is top notch, as would be expected as the previous releases were the same. But the guitars have a strong bite and crunch to them, and interesting melodic riffs that sound rather fresh. The vocals are harsh but very cleanly performed. The lyrics are rather somber with imagery of death and betrayal. To me this album is a rather easy listen, while the intensity is there, the long melodic parts add these epic moments like towards the end of the third track I Betray Those Whom I Loved. Its great to hear the experimentation of a new sound and a great performance, as while you can hear the influences from older black metal bands, it sounds very fresh and new, breaking away from any sort of lofi sound they had before.
You can tell there was a lot of thought and intention went into this album. They went into it with a vision that was experimented with on the previous EP release Dark Age Funeral Dreams. This approach was much more raw and felt more like old school 90s second wave, which personally, I thought was rather charming, and do hope the band returns to that more raw style of production. But, with this album a deeper sense of focus was there and the product at the end is a well produced and extremely tight sounding album. Certainly a strong sophomore release.
This is a fun listen and a step in a great direction this band is taking. The performance instrumentally is top notch, and would be interesting to hear what else they put out in the future. They have already proven themselves to have a diverse sound, as their first album, had some of these black metal characteristics already, though going for the more dungeon synth approach. But as of now, this is an all around solid release that was extremely fun to listen to. Everything about the album is so tight and well worth a listen.