Review: Hvile I Kaos – Black Morning, Winter Green

Many bands, metal bands especially, aren’t afraid to mix in orchestral elements into their music; hell, there are even specific sub genres for just such bands. It’s worryingly uncommon however for these groups to put the orchestral elements front and centre, instead of merely relying on them for textural embellishments. Some artists however have a blatant appreciation for the forefather of modern music, and delve head first into the world of classical and chamber music. California hailing Hvile I Kaos are one such act, and with their new release, Black Morning, Winter Green, they express the intensity of black metal with the voices of old. 

Let’s get one thing clear, this is by no means a typical black metal release, there aren’t any tremolo picked guitars or wretched lyrics about frost or death. Hvile I Kaos instead portray the same emotive power as black metal, using classical instrumentation and composition. This EP is one track, split into three movements and each carrying their own identity, forming one cohesive whole. This makes it alarmingly easy to listen to. Multi instrumentalist Kakophonix is able to seamlessly bind dark, borderline terrifying motifs into uplifting, euphoric lines with ease. Opener ‘An Inviting Afterglow’, is full of such dark riffs, with Kakophonic scraping the bow against the strings. Take that pick scrapes! The bulk of this EP and second track, ‘Grand Darkness Engulfs’, feels like a fully fledged release on its own, and also goes from beauty to outright savagery in a heartbeat. The tense crescendo outro explodes into the last track, ‘A Shock of Winter Green’, and this tension is held throughout track with the up tempo busy string sections providing little respite.

Hvile I Kaos also share some of the anthemic qualities of post rock. The harrowing melodies toe the line between tear jerking and smile inducing, and will probably do one or the other to you during your many probable listens. The section around the three minute mark of ‘Grand Darkness Engulfs’ goes from the latter and very quickly into some kind of the former. The spoken word outro is certainly a solid idea, however its production is in stark contrast to the rest of the release which features crystal clear recording, with each element feeling intimate and sharp. The outro however sounds like it was recorded in a cave with harsh sibilance and washy reverb. In isolation it’s a great listen and is certainly a solid inclusion but this choice in production would feel more apt in a more “traditional” black metal release. If your bored of blast beats and corpse paint, Black Morning, Winter Green is a fantastic palette cleanser. A tight, tense, black metal release, just not as you know it.

Black Morning, Winter Green is available from 6th December through Red Nebula, and can be purchased here.

Words: Sean Elias