Black Metal themes (lyrics & artwork) are often inspired by Tolkien or Lovecraft, amongst others. But it is not that common to use Joanne ‘J.K.’ Rowling as source of inspiration. As you probably know, she’s the author of e.g. the Harry Potter saga or the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ adventures.
Well, the Los Angeles-based duo Paul (all strings) and Sirius (vocals and keyboards) aka Slytherin use Rowling’s scripts as thematical basics for their Black Metal. They are named after one of the houses at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and even the emblem from that house, the snake, is used by this band in their band logo. …true dedication for sure…
The both of them wrote and recorded two albums in the meantime, A Tale We’ll Tell Of What Hath Been… (released in Summer 2020) and When The Darkness Comes (which saw the light at the very beginning of this year. Both of them are digital-only recordings, independently released, and therefore worth any additional support and promotion. That’s where I join the story… No, seriously, it’s their great Aural Art as well that convinces me to write down my thoughts on this project’s material. This review deals with their first effort, A Tale We’ll Tell Of What Hath Been… It consists of seven hymns that last in between five and seven minutes, having a total running time of more than forty-two minutes.
Well, just like many Tolkien-inspired acts, this Harry Potter tribute band (not exactly a tribute band, but you know…) brings a very orchestral form of Symphonic Black Metal. It is based in the first place of melody above all, based on majestic synth orchestrations, sometimes bombastic, then again epic / heroic, hypnotic or moody. The spine of the batter part of this album indeed gets led by keyboard melodies, creating a world of fantasy and magic. There are several levels, smoothly constructing a multi-layered soundtrack for dimensions of mystery and wonder. Oh, it does surely fit to the conceptual approach.
This gets supported by a firm string section, yet this one has indeed a supportive goal rather than playing a leading role. This material indeed is not guitar-based. Also the drums are massively strutting the sonic main contribution. There is a lot of variation in this percussion programming, with some fierce, blasting beat salvos, then again the addition of martial sounding drum escorting or pounding and pushing drum patterns accompany the whole adventurous soundscape.
The vocals are somewhat of the high-pitched kind, raspy and hysterical. I wouldn’t call them inferior to the keyboards, just like the drum programming or string section, but rather hugely supporting the whole aural voyage. It’s the final mix too that takes care of the fact that every element within this complex play is clearly audible, despite the main role for the emphasis on the keyboard-based work.
A necessity to add is the track Chamber Of Secrets, which actually is a nice adaptation of the so-called track from the original Harry Potter score. Somehow Slytherin are able to translate this John Williams cover song into a piece that smoothly fits to their own approach. Recognizable, yet somehow characteristic too…
Slytherin might not be the most renewing act within this genre, but they are not a narrow-minded copycat act either (at all). And I am pretty sure that this material might be adored by those who do not dislike same-minded combos in the vein of Summoning (some fragments are clearly inspired by this Austrian duo for sure), Elffor, Nebula Orionis, Astarium, Eldamar, Morth, Obsidian Gate, Caladan Brood, Sirius (indeed), Lunar Aurora or Uruk-Hai.