The love affair between synthwave and black metal continues into its honeymoon phase with Elay Arson’s SPIRIT | DEATH. A horror-touched, metallic darksynth release isn’t anything new in 2018, which itself may be the midst of a renaissance for the genre, but Colorado duo Elay Arson have held their own in the wave.
The themes of the duo’s third record, entitled SPIRIT | DEATH, revolve around writer and synthetic techlord Daniel Larson’s own native American upbringing, with references to native Hopi religion scattered about the record. Guitarist, drummer, and further synth layer Devin Harrison compliments the occult themes in his handiwork, with the album constantly teetering between metal-influenced electronic and electronic-influenced metal. Fans have already thrown around the phrase “intense” regarding the record, and for good reason. Moments of true, dark vigor appear noticeably on tracks like “Tawa” and “Mescalero Prophecy”.
My favorite track on the record burns down to “Masauwu, Fire Keeper”, which after starting with an interesting voiceover, holds itself in the balance of violent, broken-down metal, and ethereal sounds of wonder like those found in a film by Full Moon Features. In terms of imagery and tone, it’s hard to understand the seriousness of the album’s background. The inverted cross on the album cover overshadows the album’s solemn content, changing the vibrations of ancestral mysticism into something more caricatured, akin to The Poltergeist or Pet Sematary.
From either approach, the occult tinge is noticeable and gets the point across. Guest appearances by European artists Carbon Killer and Ultraboss are interesting touches to the mix as well. SPIRIT | DEATH is a solid full-length record that fully supports itself and provides Elay Arson with another push in the metallic darkwave renaissance.