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Svalbard Singer’s Black Metal Solo Project, Noctule, Unveils New Single, “Labyrinthian”

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Folks, I’ll be honest: the sheer volume of shitty behavior and people within the black metal scene that’s come to the surface in recent years has turned me off from the genre almost entirely (call me naïve if you like… I know now that it was there all along, but I simply wasn’t aware of it yet). I see a black metal promo come into my inbox and I just skip it outright. I know problematic folks and bands only comprise a small portion of the scene, but I’m just telling you how I feel… I’m not saying it’s fair.

With Svalbard frontwoman Serena Cherry, I know that is the last thing I have to worry about. It’s nice to be able to enjoy some black metal again without having to Google “[band name] white supremacist” if I find myself enjoying it. That might sound extreme, but I’ve been burned too many times.

Noctule, the project borne of Cherry’s pandemic-inspired boredom and inspiration, will release Wretched Abyss in May. The album finds Cherry returning to her pre-Svalbard black metal roots to write an entire album themed around the RPG computer game Skyrim, each song about different dungeons, story lines and weapons within the game.

Following the title track in February, Serena has now put out “Labyrinthian,” the album’s second single. Here’s what she has to say about it:

“‘Labyrinthian‘ is a song about my favorite dungeon in ‘The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim,‘. It is an ode to the ancient Nordic ruin that was originally built by a dragon cult as a temple to the dragons. I love the haunting atmosphere in this dungeon, and the surprising twists and turns of the quest where you follow the group of ghostly mages through the dungeon. With this song I tried to capture the rich history of Laybrinthian, within the context of the overarching glory and sorrows of Winterhold.

“The intertwining guitar leads and the clean choral singing in this track are some of my proudest musical moments I’ve ever composed. The climax of the song is a musical illustration of the rising to the challenge to defeat Morokei and obtain the Staff of Magnus.”

I can’t relate to the Skyrim stuff — I’ve never played it — but I do like the track a whole lot! Indeed, the dual guitar leads and choral singing are quite impressive, as is the mix of black metal sonic textures with the atmospherics and melody you’d expect from Svalbard.

Give “Labyrinthian” a spin below. Wretched Abyss comes out on May 28, 2021 via Translation Loss Records (North America), Church Road Records (EU/UK), and Through Love Records (Germany); pre-order here.

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