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A black metal band making this type of long acoustic-based, nature-inspired song would immediately make listeners think of the Cascadian black metal scene. However, Vaiya hail from Australia. The sole member of Vaiya also plays in Encircling Sea, which might explain why he chose a release with one long song. Clocking in at nearly 19 minutes, this song certainly has room to let atmosphere develop. :W i n t e r m o o n: was recorded as a celebration of the winter solstice. This is how the release has been self described: "It is an ode to the life winter brings us. It feeds our scorched earth and dry bodies. It brings forth a time of abundance to our lands." While not the most enthralling track, it certainly brings out the atmosphere of natural landscapes.
This sort of song has been done countless times before; most notably in the neo-folk and Cascadian black metal scenes. Acoustic driven songs inspired by the wilderness can be very pleasing when done right. They can capture the natural atmosphere of a landscape and bring you there in your mind's eye. The instrumental tracks on Agalloch's The Mantle encapsulated the aura of lush, green rolling hills. Skagos's "...With A Warm Recollection" perfectly captured the vast Cascadian landscape. Vaiya definitely create a wintery forest vibe, but it lacks the majestic qualities of the aforementioned songs. It doesn't do an effective job at creating a truly inspiring atmosphere.
The song is driven by calm, vaguely dark acoustic arpeggios. Subtle happenings often go on behind these arpeggios. Near the beginning, it is a babbling brook. Subtle dark ambience occasionally lingers, and raspy whispers are a present element. Low mournful chants make an appearance, as well as chirping birds at the end. Well after the ten minute mark, a distorted electric guitar loiters in the background. In one part, the arpeggios are replaced by chords, however, this is brief and the arpeggios are pretty much constant. This long song relies solely on atmosphere. Does that atmosphere deliver? Well, sort of. The atmosphere does accomplish the nature vibe they where going for, yet it contains little depth. The repetitive arpeggios are too apathetic to capture any imaginations. Despite background elements, the song is largely boring and not of the hypnotizing beauty it was meant to portray.
While this song would certainly be appropriate for the winter solstice, it wouldn't do it justice. There is a fine line between hypnotizing repetition and boring repetition. On this release, Vaiya fall short of hypnotizing. The subtle background going-ons are certainly interesting, yet not breathtaking enough to save the song from the monotonous acoustic arpeggios. While this band certainly has the style down, the same thing can't be said about substance.