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Ambitious soundtrack to an imaginary BM / dark ambient nuclear winter - 75%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, March 16th, 2020

Apart from the interesting band name (which seems to be inspired by a copy of a painting by Leonardo da Vinci depicting the seduction of Leda, a princess in Greek mythology, by the god Zeus in the form of a swan; the copy itself is known as the Spiridon Leda and is held by the Uffizi art museum in Florence, Italy), I don't know much at all about Leda Spiridon, not even how many people there are in the band. LS play a fusion of melodic black metal, dark ambient and industrial on "Eldfell - A Dark Summer of Light", which is the band's third release and second recording of original songs, the very first release being an EP of covers of Dark Throne, Isengard, Mayhem and Venom songs.

The album consists of just two very long parts of more or less equal lengths so the album seems intended as a concept work. The cover art depicts mountains under a sky with faint solar rays shining down and diagonally from the upper right-hand corner so together with the album title, the theme of the recording may well be the coming of darkness upon the world. The album starts out breezily enough with a mix of aggressive yet fairly clear-sounding gritty melodic BM backed by ominously dark keyboard ambient wash and bristling guitar feedback drone. Very soon "Eldfell ... Part I" ushers the listener into a very sombre and darkening world of explosions, echoes and fragments of both clean-toned and frizzly BM six-stringed melodies. The noise guitar droning cuts through the darkness and provides guidance for listeners, not that there is anything to see or hear in a shadow world of constant echo and deep-cavern ambience. "... Part I" takes us further and further down into the blackness, where hardly anything seems to be present except for two competing sets of guitar riffs and melodies, one set being sharp and cutting BM guitar noise and the other being either clean-toned jangly guitar or twanging bass.

We continue to stumble along with our guitar guides in "Eldfell ... Part II" which take us past some dubious soundscapes of steaming background noises, rumbles of something lurking behind us, circling hover drones, distant voices and a raspy chanting daemon voice. In the tenebrous firmament overhead, banging and clanging metal noises can be heard reverberating in the distance. Later in the track the music turns more to old skool black metal of a style that (for me) recalls Ved Buens Ende in that band's 1990s glory days. Like VBE, Leda Spiridon experiment with their brand of melodic BM, giving equal time to a distinct bass style and sound, and the music apt to pause frequently for brief split-second ambience or feedback noise to ooze through.

I find the album is very busy and constant all the way from start to finish, and its sound is steady with few ebbs and flows in its dynamics. There's really not much drama and no sense of the music actually reaching out and overwhelming the senses. Listening to "Eldfell ..." all the way through, I had no sense of being involved and being immersed in the soundscapes. Perhaps the production is a bit too clean and needs to have a more murkiness in the sounds for that important three-dimensional immersive feel. This is unfortunate as the music here is unusual and experimental in parts even though the style harks back to 1990s second-generation melodic BM. In addition, and perhaps also because the music is not as immersive as it could have been, both tracks can sound long and monotonous in their ambient sections, and these could have been edited for length.

This is definitely an ambitious and quite experimental BM / dark ambient fusion soundtrack for a movie yet to be made - a movie of the apocalypse descending upon Earth, probably through a natural disaster like a humongous volcano explosion - Eldfell happens to be the name of an active volcano in Iceland - which brings in a long-lasting nuclear winter that kills off all life on Earth and leaves behind vast windswept barren deserts across the continents. In that movie, very few humans figure at all - we might hear the cries of a few survivors unlucky to have survived the blasts, the vibrations and the tsunamis - but listeners will feel very much like passive observers, unable to do anything.