Slidhr is an enigma, one shrouded in mystery and mysticism. The Irish black metal entity has made a conscious effort to maintain anonymity, recoiling into the dim corners of reclusiveness and letting the music speak for itself, as the old saying goes.
Slidhr has spent the best part of five years crafting Deluge, their first full-length record, something that firmly places Slidhr in the modern black metal consciousness. Previous efforts, most notably Ex Nihilio, a split release with fellow countrymen Rebirth of Nefast, were hailed as some of the finest BM to emerge from this small island and in the time since its release and the arrival of Deluge, black metal in Ireland is enjoying something of a renaissance, from Sodb to Fuil na Seanchoille.
Released through BM mainstay label, Debemur Morti, Slidhr couldn’t have chosen a better partner to unleash this album that can simply be called their “moment”. Deluge is an utter triumph, not only for Irish black metal but also as a shining example of supreme black metal in the year 2013.
This is an album that flatters shamelessly with all the elements of orthodox black metal while also crafting an image, sound and atmosphere entirely to itself. This is encapsulated by the record’s production job. There is nothing lo-fi or kvlt about it. This sounds vast and sprawling with large glorious halls for Slidhr to unfurl their sonic majesty and peel away each layer, revealing a new and intriguing facet to their black metal. Make no mistake though, this studio job may be clean and precise but by no means sterile.
Deluge sounds invigorating but also tormented, from the pained, agonising vocals that are soaked into every track to the simply pummelling drumming that is counteracted by winding, meandering guitars, which conjure the mesmeric atmosphere. There are brief moments on this record that recall the hypnotic flavours of Blut Aus Nord’s The Work Which Transforms God, while treading grounds of more traditional BM song structure. ‘Symbols Obscuring’ is a near-perfect example of Slidhr lulling you into a dream-like state with pulsating riffs, only for the doom intro of ‘Rejoin The Dirt’ swiftly followed by blasts to wake you once again.
‘Rejoin The Dirt’ can lay claim to being one of the album’s finest moments, marking its midpoint with a crushing and heart-stopping crescendo that fearlessly utilises judicial levels of melody with some of Deluge’s most unnerving and imposing vocals yet. It’s quite emblematic of the whole album in that there is so much to take in with each passage.
‘Death of the Second Sun’, a track released many months ago, is where Slidhr unveil yet another aspect of their being with a gloriously hook-laden riff that’s at odds with the album’s black metal core but never once sounds disjointed as it then plunges us back into familiar territory
Familiar territory is where Slidhr end the album with ‘Rays Like Blades’, a juddering hail of melody-infused black metal, coalescing all the album’s virtues into a stunning end note.
Deluge isn’t an album that lives up to its name, as this is glimmering jewel in black metal’s crown, one that’s captivating and engrossing from the first riffs through to its dying moments and surely to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue for some time.