Yellow Eyes have been quite active in the black metal domain. The band first released their debut full-length album, Silence Threads The Evening’s Cloth in 2012, as well as a split release with Monvment, introducing their identity, which was heavily influenced by the US black metal wave. The sound of the album appeared to be quite raw and uncompromising, but revealed also the potential of Yellow Eyes. The band’s next album, Hammer of Night, would come just a year after their debut. This time it felt like the sound was more carefully crafted, managing to contain dissonant and melodic elements on top of a great atmosphere. Even though the third album of Yellow Eyes did not come as fast as Night of Hammer did, the band still released a couple of EPs in 2014, The Desert Mourns and Stillicide, in order to make sure that their presence was felt.
Label: Gilead Media
Now, Yellow Eyes make a return with Sick With Bloom, their third overall full-length and the first to be released through Gilead Media. The album seems to be a big step forward in terms of the band’s sound and the construction of their tracks, managing to create compositions of great density, something that has been a characteristic of several releases in the US black metal scene. “Streaming From the Undergrowth” and “What Filters Through the Copper Stain” both feature heavy layered parts, with the guitars covering most of the space with their intense sound. However, there are instances when that is further expanded. The complete devastation that this approach has on “The Mangrove, The Preserver,” causing the track to be almost devoid of any dissonant or melodic element, as if the only aspect present is condensed hatred. “Fallen Snag” is probably the most furious moment of Sick With Bloom as its dense sound lets through a blazing defiant attitude, while the closing track combines the density of Yellow Eyes with the more dissonant approach of their music.
However, the main focus of Yellow Eyes remains the exploration of discordance within their music. The opening track finally breaks in such an instant of bitter dissonance, with the guitars’ vitriol cutting through very nicely. The twists and turns in the track result in moments where this chaotic cacophony causes disorientation, while at other times the lead work nods towards acts such as Krallice. “Streaming From the Undergrowth” and “Ice In The Spring” both feature a more old-school black metal approach, with the guitars raging in fury in the first, while preparing and setting up the tone for what will come next in the closing track. However, the extent to which this venomous approach of Yellow Eyes is able to travel is quite astonishing, and it becomes quite clear with “The Mangrove, The Preserver” with the toxic leads cutting through, and the true poison that is “Fallen Snag.” In this case especially it is amazing to see how Yellow Eyes are able to bring together their edgy, dissonant alongside a melodic approach. The strange combination that unfolds is glorious, with the mid-tempo groove giving a more grand characteristic to the music.
Because, even though the music of Yellow Eyes might be harsh, that does not mean that it is devoid of melody, no matter how carefully hidden that may be. A more melodic outlet begins to appear in “Streaming From the Undergrowth” and creeps into the structure of the track, while the ambient part that appears later on sees the melodic element coming to the surface, granting the track a ritualistic quality. In the closing track, there are also some background melodies that begin to blossom as time passes, appearing as if in a dream state. It comes down to the fluidity of transitions between the different parts. “What Filters Through The Copper Stain” is a perfect example of the band’s ability to switch from melody to dissonance with great fluency, and even take on chaotic forms where all this information turns the music to a vortex of sorts. It also comes in quite handy that the drums in Sick With Bloom are played by M. Rekevics (of Fell Voices, Vanum and Vorde,) who is able to aid in the switches from the more destructive, faster, filled with blastbeats parts to more mid-tempo groove moments, as is the case with “The Mangrove, the Preserver,” or switches from aggression to eerie parts, as happens in “Streaming From the Undergrowth.”
Even though the album does not feature the archetypal eerie quality of black metal, there are a few moments where that aspect of Yellow Eyes rises. The most prominent is “What Filter Through The Copper Stain,” with the band unleashing their ghostly approach, which grants them a more towering personification, as the drums take on a more steady role and the guitars an all-devouring form. Again the transitions are spot on, giving the track more aggression and hostility when the faster parts come in and then a more pessimistic quality when the eerie moments are revisited.
Sick With Bloom also features more ambient heavy tones. This aspect of the band is often visited in the album, mainly by the use of field recordings. Those do a great job of awakening this desolate atmosphere for Yellow Eyes, and also aid in the continuity of the album, with the samples granting a natural shift from the ending of a song to the beginning of the next, as is the case with the opening track and “Streaming From The Undergrowth.” The inclusion of an acoustic guitar further enhances the atmosphere in this instance, making subtle appearances throughout the album, alongside the field recordings for most parts, giving a more mystical and magical quality to the music, as is the case with “The Mangrove, the Preserver.” In the closing track, it takes an even bigger role, granting this mystical attribute alongside a more ritualistic quality, finishing off the album in a very nice tone.
The previous two albums were good releases, but Sick With Bloom sees Yellow Eyes raising the bar. The structure of their songs is better worked out, the different elements are equally highlighted and their transitions between the different parts more impressive. The ambiance comes alive in this album, infusing the listener with its pessimistic tone, while the density of the track sets a more destructive tone. On every level, these guys have surpassed themselves in Sick With Bloom.