Rainbows in the Dark: Christian Death — “Evil Becomes Rule”

Do I really need to give you a primer on Christian Death at this point?  They’ve been around for over forty years, and while their membership has been a little inconsistent (to put it mildly, but we’ll get there), their overall impact on the musical landscape cannot be understated.  Even if you somehow have never heard of them, they fall into a category of bands that I find the history of unique and captivating.  They are your favorite band’s favorite band, and on their most recent release, Evil Becomes Rule, they double down on just what makes them so appealing across a wide spectrum of artists and fans.

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Rainbows in the Dark:  Wardruna — “Kvitravn – First Flight of the White Raven”

A perfect offering for Earth Day, Norse legends Wardruna have released a majestic two-part album titled KvitravnFirst Flight of the White Raven.  The first 11 songs are a re-release of Kvitravn which debuted in 2021 and scored numerous international chart entries, while the remaining 13 songs are live recordings consisting of new songs from Kvitravn as well as old favorites from across the band’s discography.  Everything fans enjoy about Wardruna is present here including a use of traditional and historical instruments such as Kravik-lyre, Trossingen-lyre, Taglharpa, Sootharp, Langeleik, Crwth, Goat-horn, Lur, Bronze-lur, flute, and Moraharpa.  This album also features guest vocals by a small group of prominent traditional singers, elevating the compositions’ worldly and historical feel while adding a dynamic beauty.  With lyrical themes and matching atmospheric elements centering on Northern sorcery, spirit-animals, shadows, nature and animism, the wisdom and meanings of certain myths, various Norse spiritual concepts, Kvitravn – First Flight of the White Raven is a deep and prolific artistic release capturing the splendor of Northern nature and culture.

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Rainbows in the Dark: Cremation Lily — “Dreams Drenched in Static”

Sleep doesn’t come easily for me.  It never has.  Since I was a kid, I’ve always had problems getting to sleep and staying asleep.  It’s a very rare night that I don’t wake up sometime between one and three in the morning with my thoughts racing out of control, and once that happens the only thing I can do is let them run their course, whatever that may be.  Zen Zsigo, the visionary behind Cremation Lily, also seems to suffer from the same problems, only he channels it into good use on the latest from the ambient, gazey project, Dreams Drenched in Static.

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Rainbows in the Dark: Sivyj Yar — “Golden Threads”

It sure has been a while since we’ve done one of these, huh?  To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to be writing this column when I picked up the promo for the newest release from St. Petersburg’s Sivyj Yar.  The Russian one-piece came on my radar quite some time ago because of their unique, delicate and highly melodic brand of folksy black metal.  When I saw the name on our list, I knew I had to snag it, but Golden Threads has turned out to be pretty far from what I had originally anticipated, in all the best ways.

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Best of 2021: Rainbows in the Dark Edition

Best of 2021

You know I had to do it, so here it is.  As I’ve already said, this year was a year that was cram-packed with excellent releases, and the world of non-metal and metal adjacent was no exception, so much so that I almost considered doing another, separate honorable mentions list just for non-metal.  The only reason I didn’t is because free time and sanity are at something of an all-time-low, so you’ll forgive me if anything feels like it got left off, because, well, it did.  Still, there are plenty of worthy releases here, and if that stirs up your appetite for more, there is plenty else to be found out there.  Now, without further ado, here are my favorites, in almost no particular order.

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