Paul Ravenwood of Twilight Fauna has sought out to convey the stories of the people who live in the Appalachians through his music. A noble attempt, and a difficult endeavor at the very least. He does marvels with Twilight Fauna’s latest conceptual work, Fire of the Spirit, detailing the history and practices people of the Appalachians that have largely been known for with the unique aspect of handling serpents and the significance this has with local culture and religion. The music is at times ambient and acoustic. The occasional black metal guitar and echoing cymbal crashes and muted percussion is a contrast that Ravenwood has implemented to perfection, never allowing the ambient music or black metal leanings to push the other out of place. It is this balance between both takes, together with the rich historical content that the album brings to the table that makes Fire of the Spirit an essential listen for intelligent metal fans in search of music with plenty of substance.
The acoustic strumming is relaxing, and neither will the black metal segments send fans into a frenzied headbanging session. The music is meditative and fitting for the use of conveying religious intensity, particularly for any practice of handling serpents in the context of any culture. The people of the Appalachians have many stories to tell about their secluded and detached world, and Mr. Ravenwood plays tour guide and pays fitting tribute to a way of life that many of us will consider unique and know quite little about. His passion for the Appalachian region shows in his dedication to simple but emotive acoustic guitar renditions. His admiration for practices that can be considered authentic and traditional shows in his minimalist black metal guitar segments.
The album also features plenty of spoken word samples – recordings of people from the Appalachian region discussing their spiritual beliefs and practices. They are sometimes intense bursts of sermon and fiery language, never profane, always fitting for spiritual wings driven by mankind’s thirst for knowledge. They show an intense desire to understand and pay tribute to the natural world, which speaks volumes about Mr. Ravenwood’s sincere attempt at conveying an admirable love for both humanity and nature. This balance between self-propagation and respect for the environment is lost to the modern world in the present age, and Mr. Ravenwood performs the admirable task of reconciling that delicate balance, the expression of oneself and the respect and love one has for nature in all its forms, even that of living creatures long-maligned by folklore, mythology and stereotype – in this case, the serpent. Helped by music driven by concept and the words of a people long-forgotten, he does this in the form of true art. Indeed, true art delights and amuses, but true art also conveys an important message.
Fire of the Spirit is no doubt Twilight Fauna’s finest hour. Be it on a hike up the mountains or a leisurely drive through a nature park, take a copy of this album with you and delight in the sounds of intelligent atmospheric black metal art. City-dwellers can support the album and let it take them back through time to a place when life was simple, when simple music invoked the fire of the spirit, when the calm natural world portrayed in delicate strums clashed with turbulent storms conveyed by minimalist black metal guitar. Go ahead. Stream this now.