Twilight Fauna & Old Thunder- “Bloodlines”

Twilight Fauna & Old Thunder- Bloodlines

Is Appalachia the new Cascadia in terms of black metal output? While the two are both easily coined terms to describe a regional identity, I’ve found myself thoroughly impressed by the works of independent artists in the Appalachian regions. While acts like Panopticon have gained a serious following, it’s the lack of shared musical traits that make these musicians so fascinating to me. Instead of a shared musical identity, artists like Twilight Fauna and Old Thunder are showcasing their own little slices of reality out in the mountains and wilderness. It’s something to be said that many artists in the small yet crucial community are solo entities, either due to necessity or personal vision. If anything, these artists seem to embrace the isolation and oneness with their environment, with all the beauty, sadness, and wonder that it may bring. The recent Bloodlines split cassette is an easily absorbed and welcome glimpse into this community.

Two new songs from Twilight Fauna fill the A-side, proving a welcome introduction for those not yet familiar with this prolific and talented artist. Paul Ravenwood records as Twilight Fauna from his home in Tennessee, fusing his love of timeless Appalachian folk music and isolationist black metal in a way that is unlike any artist I’ve heard yet still connected enough to the larger black metal genre to hold a broad appeal. It’s with feet firmly planted on either side of a genre line that Ravenwood offers two separate tracks here, one acoustic and folk-inspired, and the other a true blazing offering of black metal that burns like the embers after late summer fires. While “Blood From Stone” may irk purists, it’s really a great opportunity to usher in the release, setting way for the lengthy, hazy brilliance of “A Revelation (Conceding the Scars)” that follows. It’s certainly not a conventional set of tracks, but those seeking convention likely aren’t drawn to the solitary feelings these artists conjure.

Old Thunder, a Kentucky-based project, occupies the B-side of Bloodlines, with two songs that are culled more from the swampy roots of southern metal’s sludge-laden tendencies than from black metal itself. Still, the edges have a rawness that lends itself well to the earthen rumbles and exhausted misery that “An Inheritance of Ashes” channels. Fusing the sparser structures of post-metal with the doom and sludge that only bands from southern states seem capable of creating allows Old Thunder to tread familiar and well-worn turf with an authority that few solo acts could emulate. This is my introduction to this artist and I’d be lying if I said it isn’t one that makes me curious for more.

Into the Night Records has released this as a cassette in both a standard and special edition, the latter of which comes in a hand-sewn pouch with aromatic leaves and other treats that my beloved cat decided were really good toys. The presentation is really simple yet beautiful, much like the painstakingly personal music these artists have created here.