MURK RIDER - Exile Of Shadows

Murk Rider - Exile Of Shadows

3 songs
79:20 minutes
***** ***
Pacific Threnodies / Akashic Envoy


American black metal has distinguished itself from the European variety in more ways than I can imagine. Latest example is Murk Rider, a quartet headed by the two guitarists/vocalists Ian Thompson and Derek Schultz, who worked for the better part of this decade to write and record their debut longplayer. And a long one it has become, despite only containing three tracks.

Exile Of Shadows is meant as a hero’s journey, and also accompanies the two musicians who became sober over the years they worked on this album. The three songs are titled Descent, Journey and Return, which makes sense in the way that first we have to fall before we can actually learn to become better people. What I like most about Murk Rider is how they play their songs, which last twenty and twice thirty minutes, in a mostly no-nonsense way, combining US black metal with no-holds-barred thrash metal and even some crustcore elements. The long structures allow the band of course to add some elements of surprise, which works best in the middle track whose middle part comes with melodic female vocals and a really mellow vibe, and ends with a brass section that gives the music some kind of festive, medieval flair. The concluding track begins with a repeating guitar arpeggio part, then turns into an ambient direction, before the band takes off again in their brutal metal fashion.

Despite being long songs, they never overstay their welcome. The three songs feel like an entity, because every track is followed seamlessly by its successor, with the last track actually merging back into the opener again. At times, Murk Rider remind me of the defunct Nux Vomica whose eponymous swan song album also charmed with unusually long tracks considering the chosen genre, except that Murk Rider are taking the extremity of it all even further. Fans of extreme black thrash metal of the American variety that are not deterred by songs going on for a little longer than usual should be delighted by this for now self-released digital album which should soon be picked up as a three cassette box set by Pacific Threnodies and Akashic Envoy Records.

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