There’s something uncanny about the way black metal is able to be forged convincingly with wildly disparate sounds and genres. In theory any genre can be done the same, but it’s not hard to notice the diverse array of black metal artists blending elements of the traditional sound with the stylings of electronica, post-rock, shoegaze, and now, in the case of Tennessee’s Primeval Well, southern gothic and American folk music.
Primeval Well’s second album, Talkin’ in Tongues with Mountain Spirits, is, strictly speaking, not the first black metal album to dabble in bluegrass (do the mighty Panopticon really require reminding?). However, whereas Panopticon call to mind the forested mountains of Appalachia, Primeval Well are very much Nashville born and raised. The songs here are warm in a way that most black metal is not, the heat is soaked into their very bones. Much like the title of the opening track, ‘Psilocybin Psychosis by the Mountain Top Cross’, conveys, these songs often call together an image of hillbillies tripped out on psychedelics and moonshine rabidly ripping through folk tunes cursed by the occult, all drenched in reverb and distortion.
The album is produced in more of an underground vein as well. The drums pummel and pound and the guitars reel off a seemingly endless stream of tremolo riffs with a primal energy from start to finish. Whereas Primeval Well’s self-titled debut was marred by nearly nonexistent vocals, Talkin’ in Tongues features some clean singing with an authentic twang, particularly on highlight ‘She Flies Undead’. The harsh vocals are a little more present than on the debut too, but remain mixed quite low, they serve more as a texture than anything particularly noteworthy. That flaw aside, it’s obvious that Primeval Well have a sound that’s firmly theirs and they’re sticking with it, to the delight of anyone seeking something a little crazier with their black metal.
Talkin’ in Tongues with Mountain Spirits is out now via Moonlight Cypress Archetypes and can be ordered here.
Words: Brett Tharp