Album Review: Spectral Lore — “11 Days”

After an extremely fruitful 2022, with five albums under five different projects, RABM’s most prolific musician Ayloss has returned to his paramount project. 11 Days is Spectral Lore’s first release in almost two years; a four-song, 44-minute EP alternating between metal and ambient tracks depicting the harrowing journey of refugees across the Mediterranean, a trek which has claimed over 25,000 lives since 2014. With powerful music as heavy as the subject material (and lyrical themes to match), Ayloss has crafted a scathing indictment of the EU’s immigration policies alongside what is some of the strongest material under the Spectral Lore moniker so far.

11 Days opener “Moloch” brings the darkness right out the gate with an infectious chugging riff, increasingly layered with the fluid melodies that have become a hallmark of the Spectral Lore sound. The driving rhythm perfectly presents a vision of the repetitious voyage across the Mediterranean, when it’s suddenly interrupted by a violent storm of blast beats and frenetic riffing. Every aspect of the sound here, from the simultaneously distant yet immediate guitars, roaring vocals, and overall chaotic nature lends itself perfectly to the terror of the ocean crossing. The Bible describes the titular god as requiring child sacrifice; here the sea is the stand in for Moloch. How many children are to be sacrificed before enough is enough?

The first electronic ambient track “Fortitude-Sunrise” is in some ways an inverse of “Moloch”; again there’s repetition, but the swell here leads not into a turbulent storm but rather dissipates. This is the windless sea, where the damage from the previous night’s tempests are surveyed. The 10 minutes of ambient rest are all too short, as “Andro Onzi” (“bad god”) hits with even more intense blast beat fury. In the mythology of the Lugbara people of the West Nile region in Uganda, DR Congo, and South Sudan, this god is also appeased through child sacrifice — the lyrical subject of 11 Days defies the gods necessitating sacrifice and vows revenge on those who would dare take their children. The middle section of this song features some crushing doomy riffs before once again returning to the blast-driven chaos.

Ambient closer “Tremor-Kalunga Line” also takes inspiration from sub-Saharan African mythology, this time from the Congo basin. The Kalunga line is a body of water that serves as the boundary between the living and dead, said to be ascribed to the Atlantic Ocean by Africans bound for living hell in the Americas during the transatlantic slave trade. The Mediterranean might serve as the Kalunga line into the realm of the living, but for so many it’s only just the beginning of new forms of hardship. We don’t know if the subject of 11 Days survived the trek, but there’s a definite glimmer of hope and promise in the swelling melodies that close this track. I choose to believe they succeeded.

Never one to shy away from dark truths, Ayloss’ return to Spectral Lore is bold and unapologetic thematically, but has more than enough power and beauty to back these themes up. The upcoming full-length IV will likely see the light of day before the end of this year (and I really hope another Mystras offering arrives before long), but 11 Days more than holds its own within the vast Spectral Lore discography.


11 Days will be available digitally March 21, with physical editions TBA through I, Voidhanger Records and Throne Records. All digital and a portion of the physical proceeds will be going to organizations aiding refugees crossing the Mediterranean. For more information on Spectral Lore, visit their Facebook and Instagram pages.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s