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Skognatt > Of Mountains, Rivers and the Moon at Night > Reviews
Skognatt - Of Mountains, Rivers and the Moon at Night

Sincere and without fanfare - 78%

we hope you die, February 7th, 2023

The latest EP from Skognatt offers a crisp, clear, yet pleasingly foggy atmosphere to sink one’s psyche into. With the intent explicitly laid out in the title of this EP, the temptation is to review it based on whether it achieved the aims it set out initially, here deduced as programme music designed to accompany reflections on various natural features. This may at first appear as a surplus indulgence of tired clichés as far as black metal is concerned, but any misgivings one might have quickly dissipate as the sincere modesty and intuitive creativeness of ‘Of Mountains, Rivers, and the Moon at Night’ quickly unfolds before out ear.

This is understated melodic black metal totally at ease with itself. It offers a degree of carefree naivety constantly under threat from the sorrow engendered by the relentless wheels of change. But whereas many post black metal outfits shooting for similar airs and graces end up in dead end sentimentalism, Skognatt are able to articulate a more mature, haunting, and immersive example of this odd emotional tangent between nostalgia, yearning, and lamentation.

And they achieve this via a surprisingly direct mix. The guitar is thin, but exhibits a crystalline body and clarity superficially ill suited to the subject matter. But thanks to the intuitively simple and flowing melodies articulated across these three tracks, everything coalesces into a surprisingly hypnotic approach to expression of joyful grief. The latter half of the closing track ‘Moon’ offers a gentle acoustic outro that wonderfully builds on the themes of the black metal that preceded it, a quiet exit from the stage. The fret slides may be a little distracting for the cognisant among us, but such an observation is a mere blot on an otherwise tightly rendered canvas.

‘Of Mountains, Rivers, and the Moon at Night’ is an oddly humble take on black metal as the art of mourning. The emotive funeralism is kept in check by a modesty rarely seen in comparable releases attempting to tug at our more irrational heartstrings. Compelling melodies, clever manipulation of simple rhythmic interchanges, and subtle yet effective timbral manipulation, there is no secret magic to what makes this work. And perhaps it’s this naked sincerity, this total lack of fanfare, that makes this EP such a welcome breath of fresh air.

Originally published at Hate Meditations