Echtra – Sky Burial (2013)
Temple of Torturous
Review by Jude Felton
If you have not heard of Echtra, you don’t stand alone as neither had I until very recently. To say that I am glad to have made their acquaintance, through this album, would be a mild understatement. It may not be your usual faire, but much in the same way that Goatcraft offered up something different with the terrific All for Naught album, Echtra also take the listener on a unique experience.
Sky Burial consists of two tracks, Parts 1 and 2, both running to 23 minutes and neither of them having all that much in the way of vocals, at least not in the traditional sense. What we do get is two tracks that swirl and hypnotize the listener as they gradually build throughout their running times, giving an ambient and incredibly stripped down style of black metal. When I say stripped down I am not exaggerating in the slightest. The main core of the music is acoustic guitar, but behind that is all manner of soundscapes and drones that will mesmerize as you listen to it. An acquired taste? For sure, but much in the same way that you required patience to appreciate Dragged into Sunlight’s recent Widowmaker album, Sky Burial also demands that sort of patience.
Musically Sky Burial is nowhere near the style of either Goatcraft or Dragged into Sunlight, although all three are born of black metal, and have then taken their themes of in varying different directions. Sky Burial is the first in a proposed triumvirate of the Passage Cycle, which explores the themes of the exploration of the dissolution of our mortal coil; of human consciousness recognizing its own mortality. Their words, not mine, but on listening to this wonderful piece of music it is easy to see how this applies to the two tunes.
At times bleak, uplifting, full of melancholy and always fascinating, Sky Burial is an album that took me by surprise. I’m always up for listening to something different and this certainly fit the bill. It is a refreshing break from blast beats and guttural vocals from the fiery pits of hell. Sky Burial is its own tortured journey, but it is one that I recommend taking, and getting lost in it many colors and layers.
1. Sky Burial 1
2. Sky Burial 2
Sky Burial is released on CD/DVD by Temple of Torturous on March 31st.