Written by: Espi Kvlt
Gråt Strigoi – Communion of the Nameless
Red & Anarchist Black Metal from Glasgow, UK
Released on June 12, 2021
Gråt Strigoi is a band I’ve been extremely into since they dropped their debut album, Alt Dette Har Skjedd Før, Alt Dette Vil Skje Igjen, on Realm & Ritual records which I snatched up right away. Each of their full-length albums since has followed a similar formula (and I mean that as a compliment), wherein the first song lulls you in with an atmospheric track that tells you what is to be expected for the album, and you are then taken on a journey through rebellious black metal. Communion of the Nameless is no exception in that regard, elevating the band to even greater heights.
We are this time greeted by an opening track that sounds like we’re on the city streets in the middle of the Black Death with people dying all around us. It’s haunting, it’s chilling, and it tells the listener that it’s not going to be an upbeat album. It effortlessly transitions then into the first brutal black metal track, and as usual, Gråt Strigoi’s vocals are incredible, shrill and angry. You can hear the rage of someone who is tired of the injustices of the world in this vocal performance, and Kieran Gilroy only continues to get better with each album the band releases. The lyrics themselves are beautiful, with lines such as, “for darkness will carry us, light will guide us.” These are the kind of lyrics I’m jealous I didn’t think of first. And of course, the music as a whole is thunderous, a war chant against fascism and all who fight to uphold it. The drums in particular stood out on this track, the blast beats never letting up, gripping us tightly until the very end, wherein we are greeted with more atmosphere, the sound of broken branches as a guitar gently strums.
The acoustic guitar carries on over to the next track, “Ex Nihilo,” which starts with a slow build-up, the acoustics shifting into heavier and heavier riffs as the vocals layered over them scream out in an agonizing cry. It goes back and forth between heavy and acoustic and atmospheric, an epic of a song that could be an album all on its own. The song that follows, “The Hymn that Sealed the Dark, Our Sealed Fatalism,” is my personal favorite, sounding like it was recorded from the very pits of Hell. While some of these songs have a gentle, albeit chilling, atmosphere, this song has what sounds like the screams of tortured souls and music that sounds like it’s being played by Satan himself. It is the heaviest track on the record, and if you were tricked by the acoustic sections into believing you’d get frequent breaks from the darkness of this record, this song proves you wrong. This is perhaps the best extreme vocal performance I have heard in my life, and I will be thinking about it for weeks to come.
This album closes on the track, “Mourning Under the Blackened Sky,” and it sounds exactly as the title suggests. The vocals here are deeper in the beginning, less shrill, more like someone screaming out in frustration and pain than in anger or sadness. They then transform into being higher than they have ever been, a person hanging on by a thread screaming into a silent void. There are no happy endings on this nihilistic record. Only devastation and depression. Luckily that devastation and depression sound amazing, with heart-pounding drum fills, melancholy guitar solos, and a doomy sound over the entire song which makes it sound less like a black metal song about Satan and more like a funeral doom song about death and despair. It is the perfect closing on this dark album, and it will make you wonder if there is any hope left to be had at all.
Overall, this is my favorite Gråt Strigoi album yet. There is not a single moment where you can shut it out, tune off, or let your mind wander. It demands to be heard. It demands not only attention, but also action. We must save the world before it becomes like the one in this record.