11 Days by Spectral LoreRelease date: March 21, 2023
Two years have passed since I reviewed Spectral Lore‘s epic fifth album Ετερόφωτος and since then multi-instrumentalist and sole member of the band Ayloss has been hard at work crafting his upcoming sixth full-length, a double album entitled IV. On top of this, new EP, the album-scale 11 Days serves as a bridge to IV and offers four grand tracks over nearly 45 minutes to satiate the thirst in the meantime.
Artistically 11 Days is a political statement from the outspoken Ayloss who has never been afraid to challenge debate with his political views. 11 Days is a concept album based around the notoriously dangerous refugee route to Europe through the Mediterranean sea, where thousands of human beings have perished, forced to take this terrifying journey in search of a better life. This EP/album is a raging protest towards the anti-immigration policies of the European Union, especially those held by Ayloss’s home country of Greece.
For 11 Days, Ayloss is not alone in his protest, recruiting a number of talented musicians to bolster the detailed sound. Among them are V and K from Greek black metal group VOAK and an unknown member of mysterious collective Yovel.
Dualling guitars open the EP with ‘Moloch’, delivering a combination of grating, down-tuned chugs and high arpeggios. Distorted, old-school riffs crunch in unison with frenetic, pitter-patter blastbeats that rise into a blazing 2nd wave of blackened metal and synth ambience straight from early Cradle of Filth days. Ayloss’s commanding voice steers the ship as speedy riffs cut through ethereal synth layers and drums gallop manically until everything swirls to climax before crumbling away into the stunning and evocative instrumental piece ‘Fortitude-Sunrise’. Its ominous sound crawls into form as textures creek and crack and audial shrieks pierce your ears. Synthesisers build to a Stranger Things-esque crescendo of nostalgic 80s pulses that soon dissappear into a lonely sea where hope is still bereft. Delicate droplets splash as a vast, desolate soundscape unveils itself, finally seeing the light of day. Synths glimmer and sparkle, rising and rising into pure, radiant hope before that serenity is brutally ripped away with the bombarding drum hits of ‘Adro Onzi’ and its whippy riffage. The blastbeats hit hard and fast as do the riffs flying in at speed, wailing and howling, kicking up dust in its own maelstrom. The track progresses into cavernous death metal, abyssal stringwork and raw dissonance, crushing you under its gargantuan weight. Respite enters midway, treading a doom-laden path and unleashing avant-garde guitars before once again devastating with intricate serpentine darkness.
‘Tremor-Kalunga Line’ closes this giant EP, first undulating with repetitive dread, jarring frequencies and harrowing screams that are so low they’re almost just in your head, then those pulsating rhythmns fade into a comforting wall of glittery, arpeggio synths as lost souls converse amongst its hopeful rays.
11 Days truly is an incredible release with a meaningful, harrowing message behind it. Its concept is interesting and utilises its instruments beautifully, portraying unease and utter fear, unknowing and hope and even the raging ebb and flo of water. You are immersed and figuratively soaked in dread and salt. The frankly stunning synth sections are where our story is truly told through layered soundscapes reflecting a colossal and frightful journey.
The theme takes our protagonist and confines them like a small fish in a vast sea, but the scale of the release is larger and more meaningful than any ocean. 11 Days is by far one of the most perfect examples of a concept album that I’ve ever heard. I take my hat off to Ayloss for being so bold and using musical expression to convey the horror of something so important.