The Lion’s Daughter & Indian Blanket- A Black Sea

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Sunday, December 15, 2013

It isn’t uncommon to see bands take part in split releases where each one contributes a couple of songs, but to see a full collaboration is a different story. I imagine it has to be fairly difficult to bring two completely separate groups together to create a cohesive sounding body of work, and that’s one of the main reasons that A Black Sea has captivated me so much. The album is a collaborative effort between doom band The Lion’s Daughter and folk act Indian Blanket, and while there are familiar elements from both bands spread across the eight tracks it is clear that each one has pushed the other into new territory and it has allowed them to create something truly special. It’s the type of release that’s dark and entrancing one moment and truly crushing the next, and it’s one that will stick with listeners once they’ve had the opportunity to get lost in everything these two groups have to offer.

A Black Sea begins with what I think is its strongest track, as “Wolves” not only showcases the way that the two bands have intertwined their respective styles but is truly stunning in the way that it builds from haunting melody to absolutely crushing doom riffs. The way that the instrumental work ebbs and flows in this song feels completely natural, and right from the beginning it is easy to forget that these are two separate bands that have come together. Although “Wolves” is the track that I have come back to the most during repeated listens, the rest of the album has plenty of moments that will grab listeners and continues to blur the lines between genres. It’s the type of release where the songwriting remains unpredictable, as a particular song might skew more towards black metal/doom and channel an overwhelming amount of intensity and abrasiveness while another might mellow out and explore a darker folk sound that still maintains the somber tonality of the metal sections. What’s most interesting about A Black Sea is that no matter how heavy or mellowed out the songs get, there’s a consistent feel to them and the instrumental work consistently manages to impact the listener emotionally. By coming further out of their comfort zone and coming together as one cohesive entity, The Lion’s Daughter and Indian Blanket have reached levels of depth that really allows listeners to connect with the material, and it’s sure to keep them coming back to this release on a regular basis.

Combining the vocal work from both groups has really added to the atmosphere present on these songs, as there are harsh screams/growls and somber clean singing that appear at separate times and overlap each other during other moments. Both of the performances are ones that I liked on their own when I listened to previous material from both The Lion’s Daughter and Indian Blanket, but they really work together wonderfully. “Wolves” is a perfect example of this, as the soft clean singing starts the song off and just as the song reaches its peak level the harsh growls come in and intertwine with the clean pitches, resulting in a truly stunning arrangement that sent chills down my spine the first time I heard it. What’s also neat is that later in the album each of the lead singers gets the opportunity to take the spotlight, giving the material a very different feel from your average release in either of these band’s respective genres. It seemed to me that the lead vocalists were very comfortable working together, and that natural flow throughout the songs truly made this collaborative effort feel special.

Halfway through December I thought I had already listened to most of the releases that I considered to be the best that 2013 had to offer, but clearly that wasn’t the case as A Black Sea deserves that distinction as well. It’s fascinating to see that these two bands have not only collaborated in a fashion that brings their two distinctive styles together and seamlessly merges them but also have tracks that place additional emphasis on the crushing doom or dark folk. What this means is that listeners are getting a perfect representation of The Lion’s Daughter and Indian Blanket’s individual elements as well as something new and extraordinary, and the amount of depth and atmosphere that is present throughout these eight tracks make a strong statement.

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