Black metal, atavistic to its core, consistently excels at evoking the past. Even at its most progressive, the best of the genre triggers thoughts of centuries past and forgotten ways—this is often echoed by the aesthetics and lyrical topics that the genre focuses on, but less commonly do bands find a way to actually make their sound ancient. The subset of acts that are able to do this and also be progressive at the same time is miniscule, which is why we're pleased to premiere Dawn of a Dark Age's new album Le Forche Caudine— 321 a.C. - 2021 d.C. in full now, ahead of its Friday release. Including more guest participants than ever before and featuring instruments like the bagpipe, vibraphone, trombone, and notably the clarinet, Le Forche Caudine expands Dawn of a Dark Age's unusual tonal range and delivers a rousing story of an unusual battle in ancient Italy across two epic black metal tracks. Listen now:

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This is no simple ambush of blast beats: atmospheric interludes, folk, jazz, and progressive heavy metal await within. While each instrument plays its role as needed, the clarinet stands out especially to me: whether on its own or paired with guitar, it's employed here in a role that's decidedly non-gimmicky and elevates the whole album. The juxtaposition of the dark and sonorous clarinet against harsh guitars frames the sound entirely differently, and more closely connects the record's sound to the long-lost ages it aims to portray. When Le Forche Caudine shifts fully into classical instrumentation, adding sound effects and chorused shouts in place of drums and guitar, that connection reaches its zenith, so much so that the punishing riffs that follow seem jarringly anachronistic.

Full of clever progressive grooves and unexpected twists, Le Forche Caudine is black in spirit but chromatically illustrated. For the small, but surely dedicated, contingent of clarinet-in-metal fans, Dawn of a Dark Age continues to be a shining beacon of promise, and for the broader metal audience they present a forward-looking volume of black metal that shows the rich rewards of breaking with current traditions—and instead opting for much older ones.

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Le Forche Caudine releases September 24th via Antiq Records.