Stiriah – …Of Light – Album Review

Artist: Stiriah

Album Title: …Of Light

Label: Independent Release

Date of Release: 27 May 2022

Today’s review allows me to indulge in something that I really like doing, namely write about a band that has self-released an album without the clout or backing of a record label. Whether by positive choice or necessity, it is still nice to be able to give over a little corner of the Internet to a band that might not be known about by large swathes of the heavy metal-buying public. The band in question go by the name of Stiriah, and ‘…Of Light’ is the third full-length release from this hitherto unknown Berlin-based black metal entity.

Formed back in 2007, it wasn’t until the band reformed in 2014 that they actually released any material. It began with the ‘Night Falls’ EP in 2015 and, with two subsequent full-lengths under their collective belts, 2017’s ‘Aurora’ and ‘Into The Depths’ (2020), they now bring us ‘…Of Light’, a six track, 45 minute sojourn into dark and foreboding black metal realms. As is often the way with black metal entities, the names of the musicians are hidden beneath pseudonyms. As such, I give you bassist/vocalist Cryst, drummer Ortok, and guitarist/vocalists Esgaroth and Tyrann, the quartet that comprises Stiriah.

The press release that accompanied this promo talks of emotional and ferocious black metal that ‘borders between the legendary sounds of the 90s and hypnotic soundscapes’. Having spent a great deal of time with the album, I can attest to the truth of these statements. ‘…Of Light’ is certainly a ferocious affair, with cold harsh riffing accompanied by plenty of blastbeats and frantic bass work to create a rather unforgiving soundscape. The hypnotic quality that’s referenced bears fruit as I have often been lulled into a bit of a trance-like state when listening to parts of this record. Much of this has to do with the pace of the music, and the way in which a lot of the music comes close to being cacophonic; when at their most savage and uncompromising, there is little let-up in the cold, precise attack that’s laced in dense, cloying atmosphere. However, if you listen hard enough, there is just that hint of melody to pull the music back from the brink of the abyss.

In actual fact, in the case of the opening track, ‘The Emergence Of Being’, there is more than just a hint of melody, making it arguably my personal favourite composition on the album. The atmosphere that feeds this music is immediately evident within the moody intro, as the sound of evil winds is slowly and deliberately joined by frigid riffs and a steady, pinpoint beat delivered at a slow tempo initially. The keys that bathe the song are well-placed and not overdone, whilst the vocals that accompany this sinister soundtrack are nasty, rasping screams in the main, although with three members of the band willing to lend their voices to proceedings, there are lower growls and higher-pitched screams as well. All of a sudden, the track picks up a bit of pace and, led by blastbeats and rumbling bass, the guitars create a really cool melody that has burrowed its way into my affections. There is even the inclusion of choir-like vocals later in the piece to increase the atmosphere nicely.

If I’m being entirely honest, which I’d suspect you’d want me to be, none of the remaining five songs hits the mark quite as firmly as this opening composition. It is a bit of a shame, but for my tastes, the opener is easily the best material on offer within ‘…Of Light’.

That being said, if you are more of a fan of the heavier, more aggressive side of black metal, ignore the last paragraph and read on. Whilst the opener is in no way a soft or fluffy affair, what is to follow is generally more aggressive and thunderous. And this approach begins immediately with ‘Drifting In The Sea Of Flames’ thanks to an audible intake of breath followed by a punishing scream and a blitz of hefty instrumentation delivered at a frenetic pace. There is a touch of melody to be heard deep in the bowels of the song, but it is far less overt and you have to go hunting for it, as it is generally held at bay by the uncompromising black metal battery that continues apace. There is an element of spoken word later in the song that allows a slight easing of the cacophony, but only briefly.

Admittedly, I do really like the old school feel of ‘Threatening Shadows’ and the way that it features those archetypal frosty lead guitar tones to create dissonant melody and atmosphere in equal measure. It is here that a word needs to be made towards the production because it is both clear and powerful, allowing the instrumentation to be heard, but without completely robbing the music of its sinister, organic atmosphere. Not all black metal fans will agree of course, but to me, the music is all the better for the increased clarity.

If any of the tracks are to threaten the opener for top billing, it’d be the final cut, ‘My Burden The Last Crown’, which offers increased melody in places, as well as a sense of malevolent groove. It is a great composition that builds on the atmospheres that appear within the album as a whole, but explores these in greater depth and detail as it draws the album to a close in ominous fashion.

When the album finally concludes, I have competing thoughts. On the one hand, I do wish that more of the compositions featured a greater use of overt melody, even briefly. But equally, I understand that this wasn’t in the grand scheme put together by Stiriah here. The German black metal band deliberately wanted to mix in the harshness and cacophonic elements to their music to create something both intriguing and disturbing alongside the brief touches of immediacy. And by and large, it is an approach that has worked. I have enjoyed listening to ‘…Of Light’ and would therefore have little hesitation in recommending it more widely.

The Score of Much Metal: 82%

Check out my other 2022 reviews here:

Remains Of Destruction – New Dawn

Crematory – Inglorious Darkness

IATT – Magnum Opus

Iris Divine – Mercurial

Decapitated – Cancer Culture

Bekmørk – The Path Nocturnal

Septic Flesh – Modern Primitive

Blut Aus Nord – Disharmonium – Undreamable Abysses

Drift Into Black – Earthtorn

Spheric Universe Experience – Back Home

Outshine – The Awakening

Cosmic Putrefaction – Crepuscular Dirge For The Blessed Ones

Zero Hour – Agenda 21

Scitalis – Doomed Before Time

Morgue Supplier – Inevitability

Visions Of Atlantis – Pirates

Evergrey – A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)

OU – One

Haunter – Discarnate Ails

Aara – Triade II: Hemera

Pure Reason Revolution – Above Cirrus

Demonical – Mass Destroyer

I Am The Night – While The Gods Are Sleeping

Haunted By Silhouettes – No Man Isle

Delvoid – Swarmlife

LionSoul – A Pledge To Darkness

Watain – The Agony And Ecstasy Of Watain

Dischordia – Triptych

Dragonbreed – Necrohedron

Audrey Horne – Devil’s Bell

Vanum – Legend

Stone Broken – Revelation

Radiant – Written By Life

Skull Fist – Paid In Full

Hurakan – Via Aeturna

Incandescence – Le Coeur De L’Homme

Imminent Sonic Destruction – The Sun Will Always Set

Monuments – In Stasis

Soledad – XIII

Viande – L’abime dévore les âmes

Credic – Vermillion Oceans

Postcards From New Zealand – Burn, Witch, Burn

Darkher – The Buried Storm

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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