Heavy Song of the Week is a new feature on Heavy Consequence breaking down the top metal and hard rock tracks you need to hear every Friday. This week the honor goes to Iowa black metal band Dryad’s “The Abyssal Plain.”
Winter is upon us. The days are short, and the trees bare. A seasonal depression creeps in as we stay indoors to escape the cold. No wonder black metal was pioneered upon the tundras of Scandinavia. Otherworldly howls and walls of guitar that recall the bitter arctic wind — it just sounds right this time of year. A life indoors also means more time to consume, perform, write, and record music. Ideal circumstances for those looking to indulge the dark arts and channel whatever thoughts, negative or otherwise, through the escapism and personal journey black metal provides, both as an artist and listener.
Iowa City-based quartet Dryad know a thing or two about cold weather. A staple of the Midwest metal underground in recent years, they’ve been steadily churning out raw black metal of a quality rarely seen in the region. Prosthetic Records took note and signed the band, which will drop its label debut The Abyssal Plain on January 20th.
The searing title track is the centerpiece of the album’s themes of ecological and political disaster. Inspired by the ancient glacial lakes that once covered Iowa and the fossil-covered cliffs left behind, Dryad take us down to the “sinking down the floor of the Abyssal Plain itself,” as they put it. “A realm where creatures of the void reign supreme, and the light above is naught to be found.”
An intro of murky arpeggios makes way for a scalding blastbeat workout and the harsh vocals of Claire Nunez, who also provides subtle bed of synths. One does get the sense of being swallowed in darkness, as the disparate sound of the guitars and synths swirl into an all-consuming sonic whole.
Where Dryad achieve brilliance is in the ability to meld that atmosphere with tangible anger and disillusionment toward the state of the world. You can hear it in Nunez’s delivery and in the urgency of the guitars. The sad part is that it sounds like a lament. Perhaps, we’re already lost. To the abyss we must return.
— Jon Hadusek,
Senior Staff Writer