The project of Brisbane’s Valdyr, Alder Glade is a visceral, foreboding, apocalyptic rendering black metal, though not without a relentlessly enjoyable, macrocosmic scope. Weird fiction buzzwords like H. P. Lovecraft’s “Old Ones,” Robert W. Chambers’ “Blackened Suns,” and T.E.D. Klein’s “Dark Gods” abound in Valdyr’s work. Naturally, these phrases also come from older, more esoteric sources, like the Schwarze Sonne, but in reference to Exordium, both etymological histories make sense.
There’s a wondrous sense of world-crafting and meticulous thought on the release. Exordium, a collection of Alder Glade’s professional-sounding Demo I and Demo II, tells a story of rebirth and final death. Indebted to various mythological texts—the Poetic Edda and Milton’s Paradise Lost specifically come to mind—Valdyr has crafted a sinister, nameless character: the son of stars, flora, and earth, destined to bring an ominous prophecy to its conclusion. Frankly, it’s a joy to read the lyrics while listening. I found myself having (gasp) fun following along with the words and story arc. Granted, I’m a morbid fuck, but the cosmological creation of a black sword “imbued with the chaos of a thousand suns,” which, let’s be honest, is a lot of suns, and the ensuing, inevitable dawning of the end times was enthralling.
Musically, Exordium is diverse. There are blast-beats and icy guitar performances, of course, but there’s also stark, gentle moments of beauty, delivered by acoustic guitar and a honed sense of ambient sound. Vocally, it’s also not one continuous, taxing scream, like other black metal releases which are frankly too numerous to name. There are croons and moans that fluctuate to reflect lyrical content. Befitting a release with such an exacting story and arc, each song, which can be thought of as a scene from a film, has its own character, sound, and story.
Exordium benefits, too, from an uncompromising vision. Valdyr—and perhaps just as importantly, the label behind the release, Auris Apothecary, who are known for their dedication to complex D.I.Y. packaging—clearly put a lot of pride into all aspects of the release. From the intricate, beautiful packaging to the tight guitar-playing, Exordium is a paradigm of form mirroring substance. The thought that went into each aspect of the release is inspiring, and Exordium should be seen as an exemplar to other projects, and not just for black metal either.
A1) Imprisoned in the Stars
A2) Across the Aether
A3) The Felling of Yggdrasil
B1) An Oath Sworn into the Night
B2) Obsidian Death
B3) Time without End
B4) Echoes in the Mind