Sunday, January 27, 2013
...from beyond the mists of Niflheim: THE FLIGHT OF SLEIPNIR – 'Saga'
The psych-metal duo of Clayton Cushman and David Csicsely—better known as The Flight of Sleipnir—are about to unleash their fourth full-length album, ‘Saga’. Over the span of three full-lengths, a collection of rare EPs and a demo, and a three-way split with both Apostle of Solitude and Rituals of the Oak, The Flight of Sleipnir have meticulously crafted and honed a distinct and unique sound that effortlessly combines psychedelia, folk, doom, and traditional metal all of which is heavily influenced by Norse mythology. While the band’s discography is both solid and consistent, they have yet to top their debut, ‘Algiz + Berkanan’. At least, until now. ‘Saga’ is easily the band’s most varied and expansive release to date and makes a tremendous leap in terms of progression and atmosphere.
The appropriately titled “Prologue” kicks off ‘Saga’ with a rising tide of feedback before The Flight of Sleipnir unleash a two-and-a-half minute onslaught of heavy riffs that are centered around Cushman’s distinctive howl. This is The Flight of Sleipnir at their heaviest and catchiest. The song is ultimately balanced with the clean vocals of Csicsely who overall makes a greater vocal contribution than on previous releases and to great effect. The following two tracks, “Reaffirmation” and “Reverence”, perfectly complement each other and continues The Flight of Sleipnir’s trend of incorporating a vaster amount of acoustic instrumentation over the span of their releases. The main difference between the softer, melodic songs of ‘Essence of Nine’ and those found on ‘Saga’ is that the newer tunes are more memorable and they possess an ethereal beauty that surpasses most of the band’s previous material. “Reverence” is easily one of the album’s strongest tracks and is driven by an excellent vocal melody and Csicsely’s drumming before embracing a multi-layered, blissed-out guitar climax.
The majority of ‘Saga’ could not be mistaken for the work of any band other than The Flight of Sleipnir. Their signature sound is all over this release—particularly during the heavier tracks—as evidenced by songs such as “Harrowing Desperation”, “Judgment”, “Demise Carries with it a Song”, and “Hour of Cessation”. The Flight of Sleipnir have clearly carved out their niche on previous releases and now, on ‘Saga’, they are exploring textures and expanding their palette. While each song of the album is intrinsically engaging on its own, it is the slower, acoustic tracks in particular that really carries this album and separates it from its predecessors. “The Mountain”, for example, is perhaps the moodiest track ever composed by the band by relying heavily on a beautifully melancholic acoustic composition and clean vocals provided mainly by Cushman. The absence of drums simply adds to the haunting atmospherics and adds depth to the album. The tenth song of the album, “Remission”, finds the band crafting a concise, yet heartfelt instrumental track that is embellished with an emotive combination of steel and lead guitar. Whereas ‘Saga’ began in thunderous fashion with the “Prologue”, the closing “Epilogue” is primarily a moodier affair, but definitely isn’t lacking in heft, especially during the latter half of the tune as it closes out with a shoegaze inspired wailing wall of sound.
‘Saga’ is by far The Flight of Sleipnir’s longest work to date and it is majestic and epic in scope. Despite its hour run time there is not a wasted minute to be found on the band’s fourth full-length nor is there anything that could be considered a misstep. The duo has meticulously crafted a beautiful album that ups the ante in terms of overall atmosphere and song craft while leaving an indelible impression on the listener. Not to take away from The Flight of Sleipnir’s previous releases, but ‘Saga’ easily transcends the remainder of the band’s discography. This is 10-out-of-10 material and should be available February 15th through Eyes Like Snow.
Words: Steve Miller
(Originally published at Temple of Perdition)