Istok by TRNARelease date: September 3, 2021
Label: Candlelight Records
TRNA has come from the buoyant Saint Petersburg scene which has also spawned the mighty Olhava and Show Me A Dinosaur, and even shared members with both. All three of these bands offer up different takes on black metal and with album number four, Istok, the recent Candlelight signings trim down the track lengths but don’t remove any of the intensity in its atmospheric post-black metal.
The artwork for Istok is beautifully reflective of the glacial space that is offered within and the tracks certainly spin from a black metal base and sonically haven’t moved too far from its previous efforts. Four of the six songs drip with the misty atmosphere of that front cover and feature moments of blasting kick drums and waves of ice cold guitar in the Wolves In The Throne Room arena. ‘Burning Bridges, Shattered Dreams’ is a great example of this as it smoulders for a minute before exploding into life and even when it appears to let up the drums never cease whilst the guitar washes over like a thick haar.
There are two main differences between this and the last three albums, one is the songs have noticeably shorter track lengths and the second is the move into a black gaze sound on two songs. Third track ‘Shinning’ is the only track to feature vocals and is also the longest on the album clocking in at 13 minutes. Along with closer ‘Rebirth’ the sound hits the hallmarks of the blackgaze genre frequented by bands such as MØL or Sunbather era Deafheaven. Whilst both tracks hit ferocious points similar to others on the album that sweet coated guitar reappears in the breakdowns to lighten the glaze of the harshness.
Overall this is another awesome release from the Russians and although it’s not even attempting to reinvent the genre it fully succeeds in invigorating it with some well executed musicianship and a drummer that is absolutely incredible. Istok will always be an album I can reach for when I want a calm yet oppressive blast of atmospheric black metal.