The four-track Dust and Ages both begins and ends with a dedicated intro and outro that largely defy what Hercyn is attempting to emulate. With electric and acoustic guitar performances that have been composed with the intention of creating a strong atmosphere, these songs are meant to give substance to the two tracks that they bookend—the lion’s share of the album. As the feedback that binds “Dust” with “Of Ruin” finally leads into an opening riff, a whole half-minute later the full potential of this band is finally revealed, but only after the initial disappointment of an intro that lacked originality and simply stayed around for too long.
Dust and Ages is far from terrible despite these opening negative thoughts, but it’s also not the strongest effort I have been presented with. Some moments evoke an emphatic “hell yes,” but they are scarce indeed. Mid-paced sections are followed by an eruption of intensity. Elements that borrow from the worlds of post-rock and black metal bring strong riffs and strong climaxes that demand the attention of the listener. This album isn’t going to blow many people away as it is lacking in originality like the vast majority of extreme metal releases today, but Hercyn prove themselves to be good enough to deserve some recognition as one more exceptional addition to the quickly growing post-black metal underground.
Relying on tension and atmosphere, Hercyn know the tools of their trade well, attempting to emulate them to the best of their ability. What they have going for them is sufficient song-writing skills, with good riffs and the kind of raspy vocals one would expect to hear from a band within this subgenre. Agalloch is the obvious comparison for such a band, to such a degree that a mere tweak of the tone between the guitar and vocals and some other brief passages are almost unrecognizable as being a separate band. This can also be taken as a compliment, for having a sound that fits so nicely with one of the most undeniably recognizable talents within metal is not a bad thing. This young band has not had the time to form their own identity, however, and while others such as October Falls, Alda, and Fen have taken that influence as well, they also all found their own unique path.
“Storm Before the Flood” is a fifteen-minute epic with five different chapters, and is truly the magnum opus of the album (though at only four tracks, it hardly had competition). Prior to the release of Dust and Ages, Hercyn had only one song on a split and two versions of the track “Magda.” It’s hard to say where this very young band fits into the bigger picture, and this is certainly a promising debut, but I do not think they have released enough material yet to reveal what they are actually capable of. For now, Hercyn are already on their way in terms of musical craftsmanship and only have yet to find a niche in order to give their name some vitality. With that said, the future is indeed promising for this young band.
02) Of Ruin
03) Storm Before the Flood