21 Apr 2021 - Pat O'
Post-Black/Blackgaze | Anantgarde Music | Release date: 02 Apr 2021
Olhava are in the epicentre of the current Post-Black movement. Their music can transport you to another place with its hypnotic “Blackgaze”, trance inducing sounds. They have delivered yet again with the release of the glacial, sub-zero gem, Frozen Bloom.
I’ve had to sit on this album for a few weeks now, waiting for Veil of Sound to get its official release, so I’ve had ample time to digest Frozen Bloom and succumb to its hypnotic and transcendent beauty. It encapsulates all the brilliance that the last three releases brought, and cherry picks the best moments to create this mountainous release. It’s born out of the cold and barren landscapes, frostbitten and desolate. But what’s striking about this album is how it tells a story, a passage of time. It depicts the seasonal changes from those hostile wintery conditions that reluctantly soften, and give way to the first glimpses of spring’s soft, watery sunshine and the effects it all has on nature.
The opening twenty minute epic The Queen Of Fields is simply put, titanic. You are cast into a blizzard of “post black” magnificence with wailing riffs and frantic drums. Melodic and hypnotic chord progressions continue to lay siege, creating a unique and furious trance like experience. Distorted muffled screams add another layer to an already euphoric wall of thunderous joy. I could listen to this passage of music all day, it’s otherworldly. It is long, there’s no denying that, and it may become tiresome to some, but if your adoration for “black gaze” holds no limits then it’s a case of wrapping up well with teeth clenched, head bowed, and walking directly into an unforgiving snow storm.
Gently strummed guitars with light airy synths allow you time to thaw out and warm your bones on the track Adrift. Its all very gentle and alluring with quiet tambourine rattlles and soft percussions, creating a tranquil headspace for you to disappear into.
However, fear not, this is Olhava, and you’re soon pelted with the fury and might of the third track Frozen Bloom 1, and one of my favorite Olhava tracks to date. Blast beats, screams and mesmerizing riffs envoke a welcome frenzy. It’s another storm, with winds whistling and humming in your ears. A standout moment for me is guest artist A. Lynn’s release of swirling lead guitars that rain overhead, creating something really unexpected but brilliant. An acoustic moment with chants and tribal drums further adds to the many layers found on this track, before the power, speed and drone fuelled melodies reign supreme once more.
Frozen Bloom II is the polar opposite of what went before it. It integrates some of the dronescapes that the band experimented with on Never Leave Me Alone back in 2020. It showcases the diversity and creativity that the multi-instrumentalist Andrey Novozhilov and drummer Timur Yusupov have at their disposal. Quite a large chunk of this album leans towards a more meditative drone experience than previous releases, but overall it’s very well balanced and can only be a good thing in a busy “Blackgaze” environment.
So there you have it,the Russian invasion of Post Black talent is there for all to see with bands like Olhava, TRNA, Show Me A Dinosaur and Somn all tightly knit together and driving the charges. Strength in numbers as they say, and long may it continue.