Pagan black metal purveyors Modraniht have just released their debut demo entitled To The Dark Mothers, care of Transylvanian Tapes. The band hails from Northern California, which sounds like an odd place to find a Pagan black metal band, as most Pagan black metal music originated from Eastern Europe, but Modraniht’s To The Dark Mothers retains some elements from the Pagan black metal template while expanding on that template stylistically. It only helps fans appreciate this Northern California act.
To The Dark Mothers features four tracks of mostly slow, only occasionally fast minor chord worship perfect for a sojourn into a nearby woodland. Modraniht is a promising band, and their music in To The Dark Mothers shows a maturity of songwriting style and approach that is typical of veteran bands and not new ones.
Although the demo is suitably raw in production values, the guitars are captured perfectly, while the snare and bass drum hits are audible enough to lend an organic sound. Indeed, the production values on the guitars helps the listener appreciate the top-tier riffs on tap here. The strumming of guitar strings invokes icy ringing notes that sound perfectly inspired by woodlands touched by frost.
It’s certainly worth noting that the band likes to incorporate a great twin-guitar attack on record that has one quality riff followed by a louder, higher octave riff. The resulting interplay between both guitars is quite well done, as both riffs play together for a while. After some time, the first guitar drops out and the transitioning riff kicks into high gear, usually playing at a faster pace. This approach is utilized often throughout the record, and is arguably its strongest point.
Most certainly, Modraniht is off to a fine start with To The Dark Mothers, and Transylvanian Tapes was wise to release it. The songwriting is most certainly nuanced, featuring a mix of tempos, timely spoken-word passages, and quality musicianship. The four tracks that make up To The Dark Mothers, are refreshing and addictive. In fact, I’ve listened to the record many, many times, and must admit that I still yearn to do some more. A physical copy is only worth every penny you spend to acquire it, and as demos go, it’s also one of the best ones I’ve heard this year.
Even the last track, which is a ritual captured on record, offers great chanting and ambient music that sounds quite convincing as realistic Pagan black metal ritual worship. Though mostly ill-disposed towards ambient music of most types, I find that Modraniht’s take on the ritual on record, is at worst listenable. It is as best inspiring, and that is how I find most listeners will feel about it as well. The merging of chanting voices occurs harmoniously and the strangled roars and moans offer fitting tribute To The Dark Mothers.
There’s not much more to be said except that listeners who feel tempted to give this release a try are certainly better off doing so. Black metal fans that want all-out-destruction are still invited to try something different, different in the mode of Pagan black metal played well. There’s never a sense that this record gets overplayed no matter how many times you destroy that play button to listen to this. There’s indeed nothing more rewarding than finding a demo that speaks volumes in terms of a band’s potential. If this is a sign of what Modraniht plans to offer in future albums, then all power to them. So, take a gander at this record and support this talented ensemble.