RMR recently started a series. One that will bring us harsh metal, terrible metal, the tastiest alloys from the darkest recesses of this particular multiverse.1) Kind of aligned to the current signs of the times, but designed to turn the next Top 10 Records list into a somber and decidedly steely affair. A response to the malevolent year that 2022 already seems to morph into. Sidious went first with a totally blackened aggression that damaged our loudspeakers longer than it should have.
But this time, we will try a slightly different tack. Sidus Atrum‘s Spiral of Life truly stopped us in our tracks. You see, there is this moment after you hit play. Things roll on in the background, and – suddenly – this record you just started will usurp the limited attention span you have left. Fascinating and almost daemonic sounds that mercilessly thrive on the deepest and darkest urges of the subconscious.
Ukraine’s Yulia Lykhotvor‘s one-woman project hits the metal world with a friggin’ tsunami of melancholy. A record that hungrily feeds on Black Doom, like so many enraged bats on a rampage. But – in truth – the record offers a pretty wild mix of trve Black Metal, Post Black, Death Metal, and – for sure – Doom Death Metal with some injections of prog and drone. And the RMR crew probably missed about a ton of other directions. And this can obviously end badly in some sort of Babylonian confusion.
But in Lykhotvor’s capable hands we found this to be less of a problem. So, instead of killing the beast with loads of disjointed details, she turned this thing into an amplifier of sorts. And the way she coolly weaves in and out of styles just takes this blackened cake. True talent at work, like.
But RMR ain’t here to nickel-and-dime Spiral of Life into tiny sub-genres that – by themselves – make no sense at all. Because Sidus Atrum present us with some pretty homogenous and complete work of art that talks about the epic cycle of the rebirth of the soul. A record that – as we reckon – is meant to be consumed in one go.
Abundant Black Metal meatiness awaits once Fading Light takes off. A small atmospheric intro, and off we spiral into the abyss of tasty tremolos that come with Lykhotvor trademark rasps. We truly relished the vocalist’s knack to turn atmospherics into a powerful metal force. Many a band already tried but few really succeeded. And Sidus Atrum ain’t even an Atmoblack outfit.
The astute creative proficiency of the one-women-in-charge becomes truly apparent early on. Rapid-fire changes in style, tempi, and tonality. Fluid and truly seamless changes from harshest metal to bouts of truly atmospheric Post Black Metal that should give Myrkur goosebumps. Doom-laden Melodic Death Metal that suddenly thrives on whatever bleak thoughts came to the artist’s mind. Spiral of Life gorges with such examples.
If all of that feels somewhat overloaded and unhinged, it’s because there’s some truth to that. The record is stuffed to the gills with a myriad of ideas that flutter about like a cloud of black and steely butterflies. But, I guess, this endless and super-agile yet seemingly effortless approach to music-making really saved the record’s bacon.
What’s more, Lykhotvor‘s voice is also her main weapon of choice. Breathing, clears, harsh growls of all couleur, it’s all there. The only help she got is for the male monologues and some acoustics from one Serhii Lykhotvor2) mainly on Rain Brings Your Voice.
So, what are the main cuts of Spiral of Life? You see, none of the tracks are bad and we – for sure – found no filler material on the record. But the aforementioned Fading Light will surely qualify and get all sorts of kudos. But the excellent Sea of Life truly wins the glitzy prize. The track sports those startling switches from cool Post to harshest Extreme Metal in a truly masterful way. And apart from those two, Breath of Agony‘s savvy execution took our – breath away more than once.
Over the years, RMR covered many projects run by jacks-o’-all-trades. And somehow things rarely quite worked out for those one-man shows.3) Yet here, we got ourselves a one-woman operation, run by an artist whose talent and superb know-how stand in stark contrast to most of those lone warriors out there.
Spiral of Life is a superbly structured record that will leave you guessing what twisted turn may lie ahead. And whilst this may indeed be disconcerting to some, the RMR crew greedily wallowed into this doomy, sometimes unspeakably harsh, but often hauntingly beautiful soundscape.
Sidus Atrum created an Extreme Metal piece that thunders forward with an alluring flow, fueled by excellent ideas, and a pretty pristine execution. Living proof that solo artists can pull off stellar records given time, talent, and limitless creativity.
The RMR office suite is so amazed.
Ed’s note: The record made it onto the 2022 Top 10 Records. Congrats! Oh, and if you wish to learn more about other Ukrainian bands out there, try this. And there’s an ethereal version of Sidus Atrum out as well. Do check out the malevolent 2022 series as well!