Album Title: Volume I
This is the first album from Banshee, an American one-man band playing atmospheric black metal.
The sound on this album is quite thick. The lead guitar is high and cutting, and the piano and synth are easy to make out, but the rest of the instruments blend together into a mass of sound. In particular, the drums are kind of tough to hear at times. It's not a bad effect, though, since it lends a lot of heaviness to the rhythm guitar. I also like the production on the snarled vocals. They've got just the right amount of mic distortion on them, a bit like Akhenaten's vocals in Judas Iscariot.
The tracks are numbered rather than named, and they rely heavily on repeated themes, giving the whole album a strongly unified feel. There's a lot of variety here, though: piano and clean guitar interludes create space between the layered riffs and cold, somewhat disaffected vocals. Floating background synth lends a bit of extra impact in spots. There are some blasting sections, but for the most part this album is mid-paced to slow, with some outright doomy parts here and there. The overall feeling is one of unpredictability, as the songs are full of odd passages and unsettling changes. "V" is particularly excellent -- it starts out with a bombastic Graveland-ish drum and guitar section, then adds a slow, mournful riff. The vocals start, seemingly out of time with the guitar, and the tension builds tremendously. After a short choir interlude, the guitar theme comes back in a HUGE, crushing finale. Then, unexpectedly, the whole thing cuts off into a quiet outro. Great stuff!
Banshee isn't breaking much new ground in terms of style, but Volume I is still very good. This album has a lot of atmosphere, and the halting, grandiose guitar work is more than enough to keep my interest. The piano is a neat touch, too. Recommended.
Standout Tracks: "I", "III", "V"