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Skiddaw EP

Sixsixsix Music (2014)
Rating: 8/10

Those of you who clapped your grubby hands and scorched ears upon Baalberith’s recent Apparition Of Skulls opus may be interested to know that member Razakel (vocals / drums) is also part of the team responsible for Skiddaw.

Skiddaw is a UK black metal duo also featuring Dominus (guitar / bass / keyboards), and they are named after the fourth highest mountain in Cumbria! But anyway, the music they create is one of intrigue as this duo likes to dabble in a bit of folklore and mythology, particularly that which relates to their local area of residence.

The band’s self-titled EP boasts four tracks, beginning with a brooding instrumental entitled ‘Skiddaw Forest’, which is simply a mesh of stark, raving chords and a bleak, remote drum clank. Moments later we are drawn into the rusty fog clamber of ‘Skiddaw Tower’, a gurgling, labouring rattle of horrors featuring those infectiously evil vocals of Razakel. Razakel hasn’t altered a great deal from his Baalberith grizzly gulps, except for the fact that the tone is more morose in accordance with its austere surroundings of grim percussion and slower, strains of wintry grey.

In fact, everything about this EP has the feel of some strange, local place where mountain ranges loom over tiny villages where secrets remain as untouched as the unadorned wilderness. ‘Gates Of Beleth’ adds a touch of aggression to proceedings, and no more does the sound of Skiddaw ache – it’s now as if the avalanche is in motion. But it doesn’t stop the duo from injecting the rush with pallid melody which reaches a tumultuous climax with ‘Even Titans Fall’, a straight up black metal tundra of rasping vocals which repeat the title in such an abrasive manner that you’ll be dabbing the whelp marks on your arms long after.

Deeply folkloric from the icy contours to its mist-enshrouded peaks, Skiddaw’s four-track EP is one born from remote valleys and snow-capped peaks. But above all, it brings a sound that is threatening and realistic within a genre that has lost its ability to frighten. Razakel is certainly a cult figure within the UK black metal realm, and alongside Dominus has created a fine body of work that always bodes well for future endeavours. It’s time to take UK black metal very seriously because it is a noise that truly emanates from an ancient underground where heavy metal music was first formed decades ago.

Neil Arnold

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