Review: Spectral Lore – «Ετερόφωτος»

Formed in 2005, Greek solo black metal project Spectral Lore has been providing a steady stream of black metal releases with a heavy cosmic and progressive slant, with the last few years also seeing the band put out two anti-fascist singles in the Book of Sand cover «No Excuses for Fascist Sympathy» and in «Φονικό Φως (Murderous Light)». This positioning was made even clearer with the fantastic debut record of Mystras, another solo project of Spectral Lore’s Ayloss, whose stories of popular uprisings told through medieval black metal made «Castles Conquered and Reclaimed» one of 2020’s best releases. This year, Spectral Lore returned to the full-length format with «Ετερόφωτος», whose review you can read below.

Spectral Lore – «Ετερόφωτος» | [I, Voidhanger]

Ever since the release of «I» in 2006, Spectral Lore has been exploring complex soundscapes of progressive black metal in its Roman numeral named albums. So it was in 2007’s «II» and in 2014’s «III», the band’s last full-length until the release of «Ετερόφωτος» in 2021. Ending a seven year hiatus from the format in which they released three EP and three splits, with Nachtreich, Jute Gyte, and Mare Cognitum, it should nonetheless not be seen as a successor of «III» but rather of «Sentinel», which was released by Stellar Auditorium in 2012 and can be heard below.

The album which stood as an anomaly of straightforwardness in overwhelming dissonance in the band’s catalogue, now is the root for a new series that shall run in parallel with the progressive explorations of the numerals one. Along his path towards the series second instalment, Spectral Lore’s sole composer Ayloss has continued to push his craft to new heights and the evolution is ever patent in «Ετερόφωτος», with a generally more evolved songwriting alongside a much sharper overall production. The aforementioned straightforward characterisation of the songs should be taken in the overall context of the band’s, as clearly exemplified by the opener of «Ετερόφωτος», «Ατραπός», a sprawling and virulent beast that spans almost a quarter of an hour. After that introductory salvo, the pace is generally relentless with the occasional mid tempo bridge and the introduction of «The Sorcerer Above the Clouds» as exceptions until «Apocalypse» comes around with its mind bending build up from drone to utter hellish madness by the end of the song.

On what is left of both album and listener, its an ebb and flow of mutating riffs, of harshness and melody, and of technical wizardry that is put entirely into the service of the album’s purpose, which “can be seen as a comment on its predecessor’s youthful enthusiasm, a kind of re-alignment that does not point towards a peaceful settlement, but on the strengthening of the need for rebellious, promethean praxis,” as its press release described it. This is achieved through one of the main characteristics of Ayloss’ songwriting over the years, the ability to create and resolve moments of tension within is music at an astonishing pace, as the more meditative title-track beautifully exemplifies.

We are thus left yearning for the continuation of both series of Spectral Lore albums and safe in the notion that «Ετερόφωτος» has provided yet another stellar entry in the band’s discography, even if by now that comes as a surprise to more or less no one.

«Ετερόφωτος» was released on April 23 by I, Voidhanger and can be found here on cd, digital, and vinyl formats.

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