Review by TheOneNeverSeen on April 10, 2023.
Gyrdleah's first full-length shows considerable increase in diversity since its 2011 debut EP Passage Into The Night. Possessing a satisfying sound and a bleak atmosphere, it also offers many exciting melodies that most fans of the genre are likely to appreciate.
Starting off with a cool riff of 'Stab The Lamb' (love the consonances like that used in song titles), the album instantly sets a dark mood created by its mighty guitar sound, Flagrum's impressive shrieks and solid clean drumming alongside the unobtrusive yet appropriate bass. The mood of the album is uneven, varying from Mgła-like spirit of the aforementioned 'GYFU' and 'Gathered For The Murder' to a more epic, Dark Funeral/Nocturnal Depression one of 'Speak Of The Devil' and the title track.
Speaking of the changes made to the band's sound, there is quite a lot to mention. First, the guitar tone is much nicer and thicker, not as "dry" as on Passage Into The Night. The singing is roughly the same aside from the nearly prog-like vocals on 'Six Hundred Threescore and Six', something not used by Flagrum before. Finally, probably due to a new drummer participating in the recording of the album, the drumming is much more entertaining. Overall, the songs became faster and more energetic, developing the mysterious, somber atmosphere even better than on the 2011 EP.
What I especially love about Spellbinder is its consistency. Most songs offer solid grim black metal, with even the two short instrumental tracks, 'Approaching Gyrdleah' and 'Outro' having nice atmospheric passages, adding to the album's beautiful flow. Ironically, the track I enjoyed the least is the album's first single with a very creative name 'VVitch', the guitar work on w(h)itch is not as good, the melody is rather blurry and the odd drum-less passage in the middle fails to make the track interesting or captivating. However, considering I enjoyed the rest of the songs, I don't view this as a significant issue.
In conclusion, Spellbinder is a creative, dark and highly enjoyable release that certainly expands the boundaries of Flagrum's craft a lot. I will definitely be waiting for the band’s next material, for the one we have at the moment is highly promising.
Rating: 8.5 out of 101.16k