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Darkher - Realms (2016) - Review

Band: Darkher
Album title: Realms
Release date: 19 August 2016
Label: Prophecy Productions

01. Spirit Waker
02. Hollow Veil
03. Moths
04. Wars
05. The Dawn Brings A Saviour
06. Buried Pt. I
07. Buried Pt. II
08. Foregone
09. Lament
10. Buried [Bonus]
11. Ghost Tears [Bonus]
12. The Wreckage (demo version) [Bonus]

Darkher's debut album Realms is without any doubt one of the most anticipated releases for me this year, mostly because I simply admired the EP The Kingdom Field, which was released in 2014. Ok, for those of you who don't know, Darkher is a solo project of flame-haired siren and songwriter Jayn H. Wissenberg who comes from West Yorkshire in UK. Darkher's music is one of those captivating, highly atmospheric, unpretentiously dark and absolutely emotive sonic creations meant to feed your spirit. Jayn's songs are simply mesmerizing, beautiful, fragile, but at the same time there's present some kind of horror, intense veil of darkness and huge amount of almost raw power brought to the surface by stormy wall of guitar sound. Now, the debut full-lenght album Realms, impressively proves that the fire of great expectations raised by the debut EP and by some other songs that Darkher released before and after that, was more than justified. The album features nine distinctive, dynamic and dramatic tracks that are impossible to resist.

Realms can't be approached as a typical album, it's more like a soundtrack, a musical journey, where Jayn haunts the listener with tales that lie somewhere between this sphere and the unseen world. It's a trip into the dark depths of past ,future or present, always in connotation with water, rivers that offer everyday a different picture, most of the time it's a beautiful serene stream which can became in an instant a flooding mass of destructive power. That's present in Darkher's songs and believe me that you'll feel just like being inside of it, swallowed by waves and current that brings life and destruction. It's difficult to characterize the genre, but there are traces of dark apocalyptic folk music, post-rock, doom, dark ambient, esoteric, gothic and yet you can find something more. No matter what, the sound of Darkher is veined by both an unsettling atmosphere of encroaching dread and a deep, otherworldly confidence. 

Album opens up with the esoteric ambiental intro "Spirit Waker" where distant drones proceed into seemingly calm acoustic "Hollow Veil" which slowly intensifies and already brings some shivers down the spine with its intense pounding drums, with slow and creepy strong bass lines and strangely distorted doomy guitar sound, and it's nothing strange if the atmosphere created can bring in mind pictures of apocalypse. But it's Jayn with her dark and fragile, but overall sensual, yet ethereal, powerful and somehow hypnotic voice that adds kind of a multidimensional magic and serene scent into every song up here. Darkher shows her uncompromising compositional talent in songs like it's the evocative slowly building in atmosphere "Moths" and in menacing storm of emotions brought by almost epic "Foregone", which was already present on the debut EP, and mesmerizes with its captivating thumping rhythmic line and addictive doomy post-rock-ish melody that so carefully intensifies until reaching some kind of a climax. "Wars" on the other side is maybe the most dramatic and as well most claustrophobic song on this album, you can almost feel the dread and immense power that in a sinister way drowns in haunting lush atmosphere that simply gets you goose bumps. Everything calms down in acoustic esoterism of "The Dawn Brings A Saviour" and then expands the borders of anything atmospheric, doomy and gloomy in both parts of "Buried". It's almost like a theatre of lost souls singing a lullaby for all that is vanishing. Realms ends with one of the oldest songs ever shared of Darkher, "Lament", a sweet transcedental acoustic piece that couldn't be more appropriate to end this absolutely stunning piece of art.

Realms can bring into listeners senses many different states of emotion, from dreadful angst, horror and fear, to immense beauty and calmness of mind, it's a glimmering of hope for the lost ones, but it can be as well a manace for others. It brings warmth when needed, but as well it glazes with freezing icing over your body. Darkher made a truly transcedental album that can't be really compared to anything done before, it's a sonic journey for your mind and soul, taking the listener into darkness filled with ever changing reflections of water. This is a walk through changeably stormy weather, most of the time it's cruel, but there are traces of sun and on the distant horizon you can see clearness.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 9,5/10