While there have been bands that use nature as lyrical inspiration, there are none that use nature the way Astwind uses it. Spell of the Melancholic Landscape redefines what it means to be ambient black metal. Most ambient black metal bands are more atmospheric than ambient, Astwind is almost more nature sounds that black metal but that’s what makes it unique.
Spells of the Melancholic Landscape uses tribal sounding riffs that meld with the nature sounds well enough that you could imagine the music was a field recording as well. The more I listened to this album, the more trouble I have not considering this band dark ambient. It’s beautiful, listening to the fusion of nature, real nature, and black metal riffs and distortions. Astwind has something totally unique.
Recently I’ve seen a lot of “ecological metal” tags floating around Facebook and the internet at large. I researched it, naturally, and came to the conclusion that, by and large, it was a derogatory term for bands that have a lot of atmospheric sound and solely nature inspired lyrics. Most of the bands derided as ecological metal were clones of Agalloch and Wolves in the Throne Room (both also derided as progenitors of “Cascadian Black Metal” but that’s a different discussion). I can see why it’s derided, especially these clones that crop up over the years and are worth a dime a dozen. Most of the “ecological metal” bands have nothing really new to offer in terms of sound or lyrics other than “we hate mankind’s abuse of nature/Argh!” and cavernous sounds. They find another band’s sound and copy it because they think it’s cool.
Astwind is not one of these bands, not by far. Wholly unique, Astwind’s Spells of the Melancholic Landscape offers the listener a glimpse into a world wholly different from our own. Spells of the Melancholic Landscapes is much quieter album that most of the “ecological metal.” It’s calmer. The music isn’t sludgy or drone-y but it lacks none of the power behind the music. In the same way “Blessed are the Sick” was slower but didn’t lack for power, so Astwind’s music does not lack for power. There is a, pardon the pun, natural power to the music that accentuates the nature sounds that punctuates the album.
This album is wholly unique and worth the time to listen. Astwind is truly going somewhere with their sound, it’s a grand, grimy journey through the underbrush.
Grab the digital album and support them!