Reviewed: March 2021
Released: 2021, Antiq Records
Reviewer: Kira Levine
Abysses is the sophomore album from French neo/dark folk project Wÿntër Ärvń, following up 2018’s Au Devant du Gouffre. It is comprised of namesake Wÿntër Ärvn (also of Aorlhac) and Vittorio Sabelli (Dawn of A Dark Age, Notturno).
“Nocturne II” continues from a song in Wÿntër Ärvn’s debut album, taking a slightly more hopeful and optimistic direction while still depicting a sense of longing. At just over seventy seconds long, it is a short but strong instrumental introduction.
Clocking in at around four-and-a-half minutes “Sentiero Dell’Eternita” continues in the same vein as its predecessor, but has enough time to grow and evolve as the song goes on. The interplay between wind and string instruments is quite intriguing here.
“Aux Aurores” is the longest offering on Abysses and is also completely instrumental like the two before it. Track two seems less repetitious and to be more engaging, with the exception of Verguin’s cello creating some variety here.
After instrumental interlude “Nocturne III”, Hexenn’s light and airy vocals during “Contemplation” add a very human touch to Abysses. Some uplifting chorals do well to balance out the moments of sorrow the music communicates.
Title track “Abysses” sees multi-instrumentalist Wÿntër Ärvn and Vittorio Sabelli at their best here, which makes it clear the record was named for it.
“Marcheurs de Mondes Dissonants”, a cover of Xasthur’s “Walkers of Dissonant Worlds” features snarled black metal vocals combined with folk music to sublime effect, adding a surreal beauty to the five-minute song.
A similar vocal approach is employed during “Quand Tombe le Jour,” along with some softer utterances. They way in which each instrument builds as the song progresses adds the right amount of drama behind the voice of Wÿntër Ärvn. Abysses gradually becomes more complex with every song, with the next becoming more interesting than the last. Towards the last minute or so, Geoffroy Dell’Aria’s bagpipe performance signals the closing of the eventful track, and the album.
On the whole, this album feels slightly more uplifting than their first, while still carrying a measure of darkness at times (mostly conveyed thy the male vocals). A charming yet despondent half-hour record from the neo-dark folkers.
Order Abysses via Antiq Records here: antiqofficial.bandcamp.com/album/w-nt-r-rv-abysses