Brooklyn, NY’s Yellow Eyes should be a name you’re familiar with by now. The group has quietly been releasing some of the best and most inimitable black metal the world over since 2012. Poised now to release their fourth full-length album, Immersion Trench Reverie, the band stands to outdo themselves once more, creating something that lives up to its title well: an album that is both deep and immersive.
Immersion Trench Reverie continues on the musical path the band forged with 2015’s Sick With Bloom. Driven by dizzying guitar lines, the powerful drumming of Mike Rekevics, ambiance set by wispy field recordings, and the unique howling vocals of Will Skarstad, their songs bend and warp the traditional formulas of black metal into something both, at times, lush with melody and nightmarish in attack. Yellow Eyes have remained one of my favorite acts in black metal since my very first listen because of this singular approach to their craft, and that songwriting vision is still as strong as ever on Immersion Trench Reverie. Tracks like “Blue as Blue” and “Velvet on the Horns” showcase the band’s ability to use abrupt shifts in melody, meter, and tempo to push and pull the listener in whatever direction they want, never allowing one to be lulled into security but always totally enraptured nonetheless.
What makes Immersion Trench Reverie stand out among the Yellow Eyes discography is in its feel. Where Sick With Bloom was steeped in the sound and feel of isolation in the natural world, courtesy of field recordings from around the Connecticut cabin where it and Immersion Trench Reverie were recorded, the samples that give life to this album were recorded while Will and Sam Skarstad were on a month-long sabbatical in Siberia, and feature haunting choral vocals, bells, wild dogs, and the icy northern wind. One would imagine that Siberia would be the place to go to craft an aura of isolation, but choosing instead to highlight those who inhabit the most sparsely populated area on Earth speaks to the human experience. Like the subjects that inspired it, Immersion Trench Reverie feels more icy and imposing than the band’s previous works, but underneath the cold exterior there is heart and life abundant.
Yellow Eyes’ brand of black metal feels truly otherworldly, with passages of music never seeming to resolve where the listener expects. As long as Yellow Eyes keep writing riffs this gloriously out-of-the-box, they can be content just being themselves while the rest of black metal plays catch-up. Immersion Trench Reverie is another triumph in a flawless discography, and certain to be among the best black metal albums of this year.