A figure draped in black moving lightly and slowly, barefoot, through a moonlit mossy forest. Smog curls from the end of a smudge bundle as a smokey scent trails through the earthy air. Listening to doom/dark folk band Darkher (passion project of the very talented Jayn Maiven) brings this imagery to mind and their latest release The Buried Storm urges this dark beauty to unfold and encapsulate listeners. Fans have waited six long years for a sophomore release from Darkher and this album does not disappoint. The songs contain a melancholic heaviness that Maiven previously established in earlier releases, while also expanding to include guest string musicians and creating vast well-developed soundscapes that intwine perfectly with her hauntingly ethereal vocals.
The Buried Storm is a fitting album title with heavy poetic lyrics and instrumentation to match. Themes of inner turmoil and despair ring out throughout the tracks with eerie, yet strikingly beautiful emotive music. Maiven’s voice is akin to a siren song; otherworldly and alluring while also conjuring feelings of doom and anguish. While the album is quite grim and heavy, it is not a depressing listen as the beauty and serenity of the music is what takes hold the strongest. The addition of guest musicians helps create the cinematic nature of the compositions on The Buried Storm. These contributions were made by Arianna Mahsayeh and Melanie Chaplin on cello, Lambert Segura on violin, Ludvig Swärd (from Frondom) adding cello and background vocals on track and first single “Lowly Weep,” and Daniel Land adding background vocals and additional guitar on track “Fear Not, My King.” The string instrumentation adds extra dramatics while also enhancing the dreaminess of each piece. Darkher’s long-time drummer Christopher Smith, who contributed to this release as well as earlier releases and live shows, has been incorporated as a permanent member of Darkher. Maiven in addition to providing vocals, guitars, and bass on this album also wrote, recorded, engineered, produced, and also mixed it. She is a goddess of many trades and her talent rings through in each second of The Buried Storm.
My favorite track of the album is the first single release, “Lowly Weep.” The accompanying music video is stunning and brings to life some of the visuals I mentioned previously. Maiven’s harmonic, light vocals are backed by a continual beating drum while Swärd’s cello contributions add a reverberating darkness. The movement if the video is very smooth, careful, and relaxed and includes a lot of rotating camera work as well as Maiven spinning slowly, calculated, which perfectly complements the pace and feel of the song. The witchy vibes of this video and the music speaks very heavily to me and creates an almost hypnotizing experience. This track showcases the direction of The Buried Storm making it a perfect first preview. The genre can be classified as dark folk with a sprinkle of doom. I believe this album leans further into the dark folk side than Darkher’s debut album, and the result is an artistic soothing, yet spooky, stunning album. Doom elements are still present and are especially heard in “Love’s Sudden Death” which is another favorite of mine.
I have said this in my last few reviews, but The Buried Storm will also be making it on my end of year list. I fell in love with it from the first single release and will solely be listening to this album for some time. These tracks are captivating and like a siren luring a sailor into the eye of a storm at sea, listeners will be drawn in and pulled into the depths. Once the music surrounds you, it is almost impossible to turn it off—but why would you want to? This album is a successful addition to Darkher’s growing discography and I am excited to see this now duo evolve and continue to create works of dark art.