Monday, 10 June 2013

As Albion Sleeps - The Prayer of Arthur Gauntlet


Ambient and drone music has always been a bit of a mystery to me. I've featured some here and there over the last couple of years, from Sutekh Hexen and Arktau Eos to the more black metal inspired sounds of Moloch (Ukr) and Mists of Poveglia. As Albion Sleeps are one such mysterious project from North Yorkshire, England and this is the entity's debut cassette/digital release, which was the debut release from now defunct local noise/drone label English Herbalist Records.

As I write this, I'm coming up against what is essentially a writer's nightmare, as there is very little information about As Albion Sleeps around, other than it being a solo project. This may also be the only review on the Internet, but feel free to correct me.

Tracklist:-

1. Oberon
2. Drowning
3. Three Ravens

A word of caution, for the uninitiated this will be a challenge. Essentially, As Albion Sleeps play drone using guitar while being backed up by the slow beats of programmed drums. The sound is close to that of black metal, but without vocals. Oberon has a medieval sound lurking, as melody pierces the initial guitar. It's actually a very good listen. Some drone music can seem pretty dull, as it tends to be the same riffs, noise or sound repeated for a random amount of time but As Albion Sleeps perform an interesting brand. There are different layers and instruments used, including what sounds like either a cello or violin, but I'm not too sure. The melody intertwined within the music brings to mind old sea shanties.

Oberon is the shortest of the three tracks here, but is a great opener and very listenable. It flows straight into Drowning. This song starts off as more of an atypical drone track, with less melody and a lower tone. There are subtle layers of sound hidden within the song, but it's more of a challenging listen due to the lesser use of melody. Challenging doesn't mean bad though; it just requires more attention from the listener. If you're willing to invest the time, you'll be rewarded with a song that reveals more as it goes along and leaves a shivering, icy feeling around you. It's certainly got a very harrowing ending to it, with a more metallic edge created by the noise that pulsates in and out of the speakers.

The volume level ratchets up for the leviathan that is the closing track, Three Ravens. The brooding, haunting atmosphere that threatened to envelope you previously, finally breaks away this time. As Albion Sleeps presents more of an adventurous and torturous sound in a track, which span nearly thirty seven minutes. Melody is sparingly used and where Oberon was seemingly upbeat, this is vacuous and void like. It would be pointless describing all thirty-seven minutes of Three Ravens to you, because of it's nature, but without resorting to hollow comparisons, it's the song I was expecting to hear from the start of this release. It's got a sense of confrontation and horror about it. It's loud and almost suffocating in its delivery.

Spanning nearly an hour in length, The Prayer of Arthur Gauntlet is a test, but one not without reward for those willing to take it. Sometimes anonymous and mysterious projects solely exist to allow their musical output to do the talking and this does it in spades.

You can now stream the entire EP below via the new bandcamp page of As Albion Sleeps -



It's also available on the page as a name-your-price download.

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