Pagan and folk metal tends to be a pretty varied field, simply because the meaning of both terms hinge so heavily on the culture they spring from and what aspects of it they explore. So, while some variations of folk-infused black metal focus explore natural and primal domains, Ildaruni, drawing from ancient Urartian religion and lore (a kingdom in what is now Armenia, the band's homeland), creates a relentless and yet mysterious journey into the mystical side of an ancient civilization. Through furious black metal and atavistic melody, their debut full-length Beyond Unseen Gateways creates an unusual atmosphere that both provokes dread and inspires reverence. In fact, listening to the opening track feels a bit like opening the door to a realm not meant for mortals: but go ahead and step through it with our full album premiere below.

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The appeal of Beyond Unseen Gateways is perhaps best summed up in the second track "Treading the Path of Cryptic Wisdom": here, after a heavy-metal-driven intro that builds up energy, tin whistle and guitar combine for some excellent, and rather strange, harmonies that weave around a metallic core. This trend of combining black metal elements with heavy metal grit and numinous melody recurs across the album, giving it a double-edged deadliness.

While the overarching concept and aesthetic is strongly embedded down to the very core of the album, it doesn't wear itself out. Strong, dominant melodies with no shortage of riffs and a variety of dynamic approaches (including the intriguingly march-like triplet beat on "Perpetual Vigil") all bring across the same awe-inspiring sensation of a classical mythology being brought to life in vivid detail. The Urartian kingdom has long since fallen from power, but Ildaruni has brought their gods and fears into the present day.

From the band:

We are presenting our debut full-length opus consisting of eight arcane chants, enlightened by the unworldly torch of Shivini.

“The album pushes to take a step into the mystery of sacred initiations, into the esoteric journey covered with the dust of centuries. Each composition unearths a mesmeric path to the past and provenance, unfolds the covert wisdom of heathen times. Each song is an impartial part of a grand ode which explores the height of the Urartian domain and the esoteric knowledge of pagan mysticism. ‘Beyond Unseen Gateways’ is a hymn to the ancient venerable flame.

“The conceptual story behind the album designates certain historical and mythological aspects and excerpts of Urartian (Van) Kingdom and tears the veil of auld lore, disseminated through the roaring incantations. The violent, dynamic tunes and solid lyrical content complement each other, creating the identity of the album and conveying the aspiring spirit of a bygone age.

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Beyond Unseen Gateways releases April 16th via Black Lion Records.