With what seems to be their first album, the Swedish quintet of Seedna start out ambitious and work their way up from there. After the slow-paced tone-setting intro of “Hourglass” at three minutes and change, the band jumps into the deep end with “Wander”, a track running over twenty minutes of metal exploration, giving them free rein to do whatever they want, however they want it, with the rest of the album.
While it’s being shopped around as black metal (with no genre modifiers tacked on), it strikes me as much more in line with blackened doom (with ‘funeral’ thrown into the name mix for several passages) through the pacing, playing speed, atmosphere, and bass emphasis, along with a few other qualities. Where black metal’s typical mode of guitar expression would be some frenzied tremolo, Seedna work in measured deployments of fairly clean-toned melody; instead of battering the drums into submission, the percussion rolls out in almost jazzy slick reserve. Instead of fury, the weighty mix of morbidity and melancholy which animates most of the songs take over, though fury does come into play with force a few times.
Stylistically, even when considered as blackened doom, it’s a bit of and odd mix, as the band makes choices that keep things shifting about instead of settling into the comfortable groove so much doom favors. Thanks to that layer of distance between first listen and full click, the album has significant replay value, with different aspects of the band’s crafting laying in wait for their turn to surface, while the more overt melodies and harmonics get steady presence. As a first album, it’s a very solid piece of work, so here’s to hoping that it attracts some ears beyond people drawn by the ‘black metal done differently’ lure.