Band Name: Scáth na Déithe (Ireland)
Release Name: Pledge Nothing But Flesh (Album)
Genre: Black / Death / Doom Metal
Scáth Na Déithe is a collaboration between Stephen Todd from Astralnaut and Cathal Hughes of Nautilus, and more recently Aeternum Vale. Given their relative backgrounds I expected a filthy slab of sludge/doom but instead what they’ve presented with this project is atmospheric black metal with touches of death and doom thrown in. Pledge Nothing but Flesh is the duo’s debut album which follows on from the first EP The Horrors of Old released in 2015.
The album consists of six tracks, two of which are instrumental interludes with the remaining four each exceeding a 10 minute run time. These sorts of numbers can appear quite daunting for a casual listen but the length is justified in their transitions between the light and shade in their music.
The album opens with the brief instrumental ‘Sí Gaoithe’, the ambient track with its bustling leaves serves as an apt introduction. The first real track is ‘Bloodless’ which sets the tone for the rest of the album and is a nice accompaniment to the dreary album artwork. The music is dark and brooding, slow moving but with purpose. It goes on the quiet side when the music drops for a lone guitar before the listener is thrown into a frenzy of tremolo strumming and the crashing of the hi-hat.
Of note are the vocals of Cathal Hughes, while the music wanders between the edges of doom and black metal, Hughes sticks to the deep growls he’s known for, giving it a sort of sick and twisted feel.
‘Bloodless’ and its follow up ‘This Unrecognized Disease’ frequently shift tones between heavy and oppressive doom and a strong sense of dread and darkness with their ques from black metal.
We’re given a brief respite with another interlude track ‘Fáilte na Marbh’, which is quite atmospheric with its use of gentle plucked strings. ‘The Shackled Mind’ mixes blackened riffs with melodic leads, and along with the deep growls layered over it, comes across as crushingly heavy and suffocating. The music noticeably slows down around the 3:30 mark for a quiet moment with a lone guitar leading us along, soon the guitars lead us back in while the drums smash in and take charge. Closer ‘Search Unending’ is truly a murky and disgusting track running on its dark and dank speed and aggression.
Pledge Nothing but Flesh achieves a great sense of space and wilderness, as if the listener is trapped alone in the woods. This journey starts off with the colours and tone set by the album cover but the music carries this feeling with its deep and smothering sound. The tracks can be a little on the repetitive side but ultimately the length is beneficial to the overall atmosphere.
1. Sí Gaoithe
3. This Unrecognized Disease
4. Fáilte na Marbh
5. The Shackled Mind
6. Search Unending