This is not a record for everybody. Perhaps the most mysterious local release in recent times, The Black Mountains is the handiwork of one Drakar Taso, an entity whose anonymity is part of the whole shtick. The music is just as shrouded: ambient black metal, lyric-less, that smoulders like a forest in flames and ice.
To begin with, the name. ‘Drakar Taso’ itself refers to a Tibetan hermitage in which an ancient Buddhist yogi is said to have achieved enlightenment – the photo of Tibetan monks on the back cover confirms the association – so you know the kind of weird, folklorish, Hymn-alayan esoterica you’re in for. And the foreboding music certainly fleshes that out.
The most obvious reference point on that note is Burzum, that Norwegian dark lord who landed in prison back in 1994 thanks to his church-burning extra-curricular activities (oh, and the fact that he stabbed his own bandmate to death). The cover art of The Black Mountains is a not-so-subtle nod to Burzum’s Filosofem, an album he partially recorded while behind bars and, so the legend goes, with only a synthesizer entrusted to him.
And just like that Scandinavian masterpiece, The Black Mountains is a gloomy, stark, occultish effort that trudges through the snow yet leaves no footprints behind. Gongs clang while synths brood and gurgle, but the biggest problem with the record is that it lacks ferocity, variety and vitality. If Black Tape for a Blue Girl hooked up with Trent Reznor to score an arthouse film entitled Mordor: The Movie directed by John Carpenter, well, the result will probably sound similar to this.
‘Behold! The King Adorned in Feathers and Eyes’ perhaps sums up the record best: oneiric in all senses of the word. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. What is, however, is the fact that all vinyl versions of The Black Mountains (no CDs or cassettes were released) have sold out. Thankfully, you can still download the digital edition of the album – inexplicably renamed to ‘Apocrypha’ – which comes with three bonus tracks. And, yes, they’re all darker than night, too.
Get 'The Black Mountains' on drakartaso.bandcamp.com.