Darkher – The Buried Storm – Album Review

Artist: Darkher

Album Title: The Buried Storm

Label: Prophecy Productions

Date of Release: 15 April 2022

It’s another previously unknown artist that comes under the spotlight in this review, namely UK-based Jayn Maiven who goes by the name of Darkher. Originally conceived as a solo project a decade ago, this sophomore release, ‘The Buried Storm’, sees Darkher now as a duo, with the vocalist, guitarist and bassist being joined full-time by drummer Christopher Smith. Not only that, but this record boasts the inclusion of a decent cast of guest musicians to add their talents to the compositions that have been created from the mind of the main protagonist. The guests include cellists Arianna Mahsayeh, Melanie Chaplin, and Ludwig Swärd, violinist Lambert Segura, and Daniel Land who contributes additional guitars on one track. In addition, both Land and Swärd are credited with background vocals.  

Having known none of the above until a couple of weeks ago, I decided to give this record a listen because everything about it intrigued me. From the incredibly evocative cover artwork to the promo material’s description of ‘dark folk doom’, I just felt compelled to take a listen. I wasn’t sure what I’d hear, but I was up for finding out. As it turns out, the material that finds its way onto ‘The Buried Storm’ is as intriguing as I was expecting. Admittedly, bearing in mind the inclusion of the word ‘doom’ in the description, the music isn’t as heavy as I was expecting, but that’s by no way a criticism.

Instead, my ears are assaulted by a much gentler sound for large periods, or at least that’s the impression I got on a superficial level at the beginning. Listen more closely, however, and it becomes far more apparent that Darkher’s music cannot be dismissed as light, fluffy, and whimsical. Yes, there are moments within the forty-one minutes or so that could be given this appraisal, but there’s a far more menacing and brooding vein that runs through the music. I’d probably say that ‘darkly cinematic’ would be a reasonably fair description.

The opening track, ‘Sirens Nocturne’ begins softly and delicately, with the ethereal, soothing voice of Darkher on top of a simple soundscape, ever-increasing in intensity and understated menace. On the one hand, the sounds of the strings could be seen as an enrichment of the composition but, when coupled with that dark undertone and the way the strings are presented, there’s a dark and foreboding feel that runs alongside an unmistakeable poignancy.

The transition into ‘Lowly Weep’ is almost seamless, but within moments, the folk elements can be heard within the deep, resonant strings that sing alongside the fragile vocals. The beat that enters almost imperceptibly, has a rhythmic, almost tribal feel, before disappearing along with all but the most minimalist of sounds. It’s the calm before the storm though, as the first foray into doom territory appears, albeit in understated fashion. Strangely melodic and beautiful, I love the slow unfurling of this track, which shows the breadth of Darkher’s compositional prowess in the process.

It has to be said, at this juncture, that ‘The Buried Storm’ is a remarkably consistent and alluring beast in whatever guise the music finds itself. ‘Unbound’ is a reasonably brief but beautiful piece of work, but that’s a description that could be applied to so much of the material here. ‘Where The Devil Waits’ for example, sees the delicate poignancy of acoustic guitars add to the haunting cinematic tones of the song’s framework, whilst the vocals are some of the most forcefully delivered overall. The deep sounds of the cello are a fabulously rich and resonant touch too.

Even when things get more disturbing in tone, as is the case with ‘Love’s Sudden Death’, the slow, plodding menace has a touch of delicacy and the poetic about it. The result is a slightly disturbing listen, but a beguiling one, with an undeniably hypnotic quality as well.

Without doubt though, my favourite composition has to be the near eight-minute ‘Immortals’. From the beginning, the melodies strike a chord with me, speaking to my very soul it feels. It’s a simple melody, but the best always are. And they are accented with aplomb by touching lyrics delivered with such understated passion from Maiven herself. For fully half of the song, I am held captivated and then, at the midway point, the heaviness begins to build, led by a simple but effective beat from drummer Smith. The cinematic nature of the soundtrack swells but despite threatening to erupt, never quite does. And that intensity and threat that never materialises somehow makes the experience even more powerful. Whilst I’d have loved an explosion towards the death, I can understand why this wasn’t in the gameplan and actually respect Darkher’s personal vision all the more as a result.

‘The Buried Storm’ is, when I think about it, one of those albums that delights and intrigues in equal measure. It isn’t generally the kind of music I will gravitate towards. However, what makes it so interesting and powerful, is the purity of it. There are sections that are heavy and intense, but for the most part, the strength of the music lies in the way that it is so insidiously intense; the darkness of the music, the unpredictability, and the very human volatility that it possesses. And yet, all the while, Darkher keeps things in check and never let it spill over or get the better of them. In a way, it is this that makes the music all the more daunting, and so captivating. I’m impressed and if you have a listen, I’m sure you will be impressed too.

The Score of Much Metal: 86%

Check out my other 2022 reviews here:

Treat – The Endgame

Bjørn Riis – Everything To Everyone

Destruction – Diabolical

Et Moriemur – Tamashii No Yama

Angel Nation – Antares

Wolf – Shadowland

Denali – Denali EP

Centinex – The Pestilence EP

Meshuggah – Immutable

Chapter Of Hate – Bloodsoaked Decadence EP

Ancient Settlers – Our Last Eclipse

Tranzat – Ouh La La

Playgrounded – The Death Of Death

Father Befouled – Crowned In Veneficum

Abbath – Dread Reaver

PreHistoric Animals – The Magical Mystery Machine (Chapter 2)

Kvaen – The Great Below

Michael Romeo – War Of The Worlds, Part 2

Dark Funeral – We Are The Apocalypse

Carmeria – Advenae

Agathodaimon – The Seven

Moonlight Haze – Animus

Hellbore – Panopticon

Konvent – Call Down The Sun

Idol Of Fear – Trespasser

The Midgard Project – The Great Divide

Threads Of Fate – The Cold Embrace Of The Light

Arkaik – Labyrinth Of Hungry Ghosts

New Horizon – Gate Of The Gods

Cailleach Calling – Dreams Of Fragmentation

Tundra – A Darkening Sky

Sylvaine – Nova

Hath – All That Was Promised

Sabaton – The War To End All Wars

Kuolemanlaakso – Kuusumu

Oh Hiroshima – Myriad

Godless Truth – Godless Truth

Shape Of Despair – Return To The Void

Eight Bells – Legacy Of Ruin

Embryonic Devourment – Heresy Of The Highest Order

Serious Black – Vengeance Is Mine

Allegaeon – Damnum

HammerFall – Hammer Of Dawn

Immolation – Acts Of God

Veonity – Elements Of Power

Nightrage – Abyss Rising

Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Star One – Revel In Time

Pure Wrath – Hymn To The Woeful Hearts

Dagoba – By Night

The Last Of Lucy – Moksha

Arð – Take Up My Bones

Embryonic Autopsy – Prophecies Of The Conjoined

The Devils Of Loudun – Escaping Eternity

Cult Of Luna – The Long Road North

WAIT – The End Of Noise

Abysmal Dawn – Nightmare Frontier

Amorphis – Halo

Nordic Giants – Sybiosis

Persefone – Metanoia

Vorga – Striving Toward Oblivion

Mystic Circle – Mystic Circle

Nasson – Scars

Burned In Effigy – Rex Mortem

Silent Skies – Nectar

Celeste – Assassine(s)

Abyssus – Death Revival

SOM – The Shape Of Everything

Ashes Of Ares – Emperors And Fools

Beriedir – AQVA

Lalu – Paint The Sky

Nocturna – Daughters Of The Night

Battle Beast – Circus Of Doom

Lee McKinney – In The Light Of Knowledge

Descent – Order Of Chaos

Aethereus – Leiden

Toundra – Hex

Ilium – Quantum Evolution Event EP

Power Paladin – With The Magic Of Windfyre Steel

Necrophagous – In Chaos Ascend

Infected Rain – Ecdysis

Wilderun – Epigone

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2021 reviews

2020 reviews

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews

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