Written by Espi Kvlt
Spectral Lore – 11 Days
> Black metal
> Released March 21
Two years ago, Spectral Lore once again took the black metal scene by storm upon the release of their fifth full-length masterpiece, Ετερόφωτος. Another experimental exercise in what one can do with black metal music, many found the album difficult to grapple with, which is a huge part of Spectral Lore’s charm. It challenges us, and we love the challenge. With epic scores and riffs that go all over the place, one is often left in a dizzying trance, trying to regain their balance but given almost zero opportunity to do so. That is the power and beauty of Spectral Lore. However, while 11 Days does still have its moments of mystifying and hard-to-pinpoint brilliance, it feels far more self-contained in the universe it has created, and it feels far more focused. Which is crucial to an album with this heavy of a theme: an examination of disgusting anti-immigration policies and the death of thousands caused by them. One-man mastermind Ayloss has truly given us something special with this EP (which is funny to call it considering its 44-minute runtime).
The record gently opens on intro track “Moloch”, with one very consistent riff that hypnotized me in the exact opposite way a Spectral Lore song usually does. Enchanted and ready to go on this adventure across the ocean, Aylossbegins to bellow out the lyrics around the two-minute mark, which make clear the album’s title. It is going to take our immigrant 11 days to reach land, and that’s only if they survive. A dehumanizing and perilous journey for our hero pulled me in with a story that I was anxious to hear the ending of, a concept album so close to the reality of thousands that it was actually difficult to listen to without producing tears. As Ayloss screamed out, I pictured the hero of the story also screaming out, as waves crashed against their rusted boat.
The second track on the album is an instrumental piece titled “Fortitude Sunrise”. Though there are no lyrics, we can interpret from the title’s name and the atmospheric sounds of what seems to be wind blowing on a calm, post-storm landscape that it is the day after the title track’s tempest rocked our hero and they are awakening to a new dawn and the next length of their journey. Though the track has a very calm beginning, there is also a creepy, almost siren-like sound in the background that warns of something foreboding waiting for us as it progresses. The drum beat slowly begins to pick up until electric guitars join the fray around the three-and-a-half-minute mark. We are then abruptly returned to the quiet wind, which leads us to another section of seeming peace, which continues out to the end of the song, though there is an added layer of a person breathing heavily and shouting out. I was not totally sure if that person was meant to be our hero or another person in the boat with them, but it works on both levels.
This leads directly and chaotically into the next song, “Ando Onzi”, which, though it starts where the last song left off, did take me a bit by surprise with the blast beats and screaming after how serene the previous track was. While the first non-instrumental track was largely built on the idea of fear and wondering if one will soon die, this one is fueled by anger. Instead of screaming out in terror and wondering if they will die, our hero is now screaming out in righteous rage as they view the bodies of their dead comrades all around them. This person is prepared to do anything to avenge their people, and we are prepared as the listener to fight beside them. My favorite lyric on the album appears on this track: “I will face you / I will Kill a God”. I believe our hero will do that, and I am rooting for them.
The album closes with another instrumental ambient piece titled, “Tremor-Kalunga Line”. Though the lack of lyrics doesn’t make it super obvious what has transpired by the end of the record, the uplifting music lends to the idea that they have safely completed their journey. There are multiple spoken word sections in this of what appears to be both men and women, implying that our hero was not completely alone despite the tragedy. By the end of the track, a thunderous, epic boom! takes us out, reminding me of so many movies which ended with a hero completing their journey and looking out upon a breaking dawn with a smile upon their face. Though melancholy and angry after the people who died, and though our hero’s journey is clearly not totally over, we can rest easy knowing they accomplished their task for this story.
THE BOTTOM LINE
While Spectral Lore has a long history of creating gorgeous masterpieces in black metal, this EP hit me completely differently than it usually does. I’m used to listening to a Spectral Lore album and being blown away by the instrumentation and epic scale, but the small story that takes place in this album feels so much bigger than that. It’s the reality of so many, and it packs a serious punch. Musically, it’s amazing, but even more so, its story is captivating. Some people love concept albums, some people don’t, but this one works better than any I have ever listened to before.