When one of the nameless souls behind USA-based avant-garde black metal band SkyThala first sent me an earlier draft of their upcoming album Boreal Despair, it was under the guise of it being a "symphonic black metal" album. Upon listening, I wasn't entirely sure what to make of it, but this is due to my own limited views of the style in itself (it didn't sound like early Dimmu Borgir and I was confused)... but then I had a big think about it.

SkyThala–a mysterious and anonymous band from Tennessee, Kentucky, and New Jersey–play symphonic black metal in a new way. Dense and difficult to navigate, SkyThala's unique approach to harmony (some might call it atonal–it is not. Stop overusing that word.) recalls early-to-mid 20th century composition while simultaneously citing some interesting organ composition styles from a similar epoch.

On new song "Boreal Phrenological Despair" from SkyThala's upcoming Boreal Despair debut full-length album, a calm solo guitar passage opens before exploding into a surprisingly technical black metal-esque riffing style which wholly defines Boreal Despair itself. The people behind this band are obvious masters of their instruments, as everything contains a musicality and musicianship beyond black metal's normal borders while still maintaining a semblance of the style's "physicality." It is strange, especially when the more traditionally "symphonic" elements come in (my favorite is the bassoon, or, as we called in music school, the "burping bedpost"). Listen to "Boreal Phrenological Despair" ahead of Boreal Despair's release below.



Boreal Despair releases November 18th on I, Voidhanger Records

More From Invisible Oranges