Darkher – The Buried Storm

Posted: 14 April 2022 in Albums
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Prophecy Productions – 15th April 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

As Darkher, Jayn Maiven lives up to her moniker. Since beginning her career in 2012, progress has been slow but steady, with an eponymous debut EP in 2013 being followed by a second EP, The Kingdom Field in 2014 paving the way for her full-length debit, Realms in 2016. The Buried Storm, then, has been five years in the wait, but it was most definitely worth it.

‘Sirens Nocturne’ sets the bar with a low, slow, brooding drone of strings providing the backdrop to Jayn’s haunting vocal. That backdrop gradually swells with layers of tremulous violins, and her voice heads skyward, a glorious choral sound that’s spiritual beyond verbalisation.

What’s striking is just how deeply steeped in folk this is, the sparse, haunting melodies evoking rugged moorlands and windswept mountainsides. This isn’t a matter of cliché: this is music that touches the naked soul. A tribal drum thumps way off in the distance on the funereal ‘Lowly Weep’; it’s majestic and it’s moving, and over the course of its eight-minute duration, the swelling sound conveys so much more than mere words. Utilising post-rock tropes, it tapers down to quiet chiming guitar around the mid-point before bursting into a monumental thunder of slow, overdriven power chords, a slow-burning crescendo that’s both heavy and mesmerising in its graceful execution.

For its brevity and simplicity, built around a picked acoustic guitar and mournful strings, ‘Unbound’ is intense, but it’s on ‘Where the Devil Waits’ that we really feel a closer connection to Jayn; the vocals are more prominent, and we feel as it we’re riding the waves of a tempest – both literal and emotional – with her.

The true power of The Buried Storm lies in just how much Maiven does with so little. That said, ‘Love’s Sudden Death’ packs a dark density, and brings with it a slow, doomy trudge that invites comparisons to Chelsea Wolfe and Emma Ruth Rundle, and not simply because these are female artists exploring heavy terrain – although I suppose that is a factor, in that we have a crop of artists who balance weight and ethereality, all wrapped in a mist of gothic enigma.

It’s on ‘Immortals’ that everything comes together in a slow-building crescendo – the distant rolling thunder of drums and growing tension that finally breaks into a bold sweep of sound at around the mid-point of its eight-minute expanse.

The piano-led closer, ‘Fear Not, My King’ plods down into the darkest depths. It’s dolorous and dank, and sucks you down toward the depths of reflection, and places you may not want to go.

The Buried Storm is truly beautiful, elegant, with grace and poise and power – and for all its softness, its gentleness, it’s a difficult and at times harrowing album, and a magnificent artistic achievement.

AA

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