Common Eider, King Eider – Shrines for the Unwanted, Respite for the Cast Aside

Cassette Edition on Sentient Ruin Laboratories

CD Edition on Coldspring

For this Halloween we pivot rather smoothly from our dissection of Time Machines to a band whose music is equally, if not more, enrobed within the tenets of the ritualistic and occult. Born out of the ashes of the Badgerlore and 7 Year Rabbit Cycle collectives, Common Eider, King Eider, have spent a decade traversing the nether-regions of dark ambient, doom, and outsider black metal. Their latest is a near hour-long endeavour, snaking its way through a web of sustained string drones, percussive clatter, and ghoulish vocalizations. The antler and bone credited in the album’s making are not so much heard but felt, much like the hellish, guttural screams of A.C. Way (Sutekh Hexen) evoke the pure dread of an eternal realm where lost souls reside in anguish.

As the opener, “Cast out to the Wolves to be Devoured, They Were Instead Embraced,” builds from a noxious, low-end rumble, the listener has little choice but to embrace a journey into the dark woods with little hope of finding their way back. It’s the kind of track that typified their more impressionistic Worn, from 2010, but here it feels deliberately like set-up for the more teeming movements that make up this latest effort. Each of these four pieces were performed and recorded during separate, collective-only, sessions. However, the entire record—even “Litha,” the more obvious departure—sounds like it could have spawned from a single recording session. The mood (like soothing suffocation) and instrumentation are consistent throughout, with each piece differing only slightly in its precise direction.

As a closing argument, “Litha” holds little back, fuelled by a level of hopelessness and terror I’d not previously heard from the Eiders. A.C. Way’s wordless growl becomes all the more fierce as the track progresses, the intensity backed by an orchestra suspended in space, now and again spouting temperamental shades of noise. If “Litha”—with its near half hour length—isn’t the mantra for awakening infernal demons, then it’s the soundtrack to waking from a nightmare only to find your reality all the more petrifying. For fear of pigeonholing this music or coming off as corny, I won’t call this the perfect Halloween record. But, if you do need something to scare the shit out of trick-or-treaters, or you just want a very good and all-around harrowing album to get lost in, look no further than Shrines for the Unwanted, Respite for the Cast Aside.

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