Label: Blackened Death Records
I’ll admit, I don’t listen to much neofolk. It’s not really a genre that normally does a lot for me; it’s OK as background music, but little more. So, I approached Lucifer’s Light, the debut EP by Sea Wolves Of The Atlantic, without especially high expectations. It didn’t take long for me to sit up and take notice, though. The six tracks on offer here are, by turns, moving, somber, and bleak; but without exception, they are captivating, full of heart and passion, and engaging in a way that the genre often fails to be for me. That they are explicitly described as “anti-fascist neofolk” in a genre that is no stranger to fascist controversy is a plus, too.
Opener “The Days Were Blue And The Nights Were Black” is a strong, stirring opener, telling tales of naval warfare during the second world war. A simple drum pattern keeps time, with strong melodies running throughout, with acoustic guitars that mainly serve to add atmosphere, whilst Sea Wolf’s strong voice tops things off. Unlike much neofolk (or many other genres, for what it’s worth), there is no glorifying or praising war and struggle in his lyrics, with the main refrain of “The dead were never coming back” being used as some sort of anti-war rallying cry. This theme is returned to on fourth track “The Mouth to Hell Is The Atlantic Ocean”, which features stronger guitars and is more musically forceful, but is no less stark in its depiction of war. They’re also notable for being written from an Allied perspective, which is something I don’t come across too often in underground music (though perhaps this says more about me than anything else; but then, it’s not as if one has to look far for even mainstream bands using/appropriating fascist symbols).
A more personal sense of longing and resignation runs throughout much of the album, with the pairing of “Brown Bread” and “I Will Die In London” being full of resignation and a bleak mentality, even if the choruses are undeniably strong and powerful. The lack of drums also adds a nice feeling of space, and makes their use on the aforementioned “war” tracks more effective. But overall, the dark mood and feeling of space, combined with the excellent choruses, make these two tracks my favourites on the EP.
That’s not to take anything away from the other songs, though. The “war” tracks are striking, whilst the instrumental “Black Paintings” builds up to the closing title track, which feels like an incantation or pagan hymn, beautifully repetitive and making no secret of its religious leanings. There’s not a bad track on here, though it would be interesting to hear how the songs work when placed in a lyrical context that is more consistent – but then, that so much is tackled here means that there is no risk of over-exposure and boredom, something that often seems to happen when I listen to neofolk. It’s possible that people more in to the genre than I will have differing opinions, but as it stands, Lucifer’s Light is a record I will happily recommend even to people who don’t normally care for this style of music.
Lucifer’s Light can be streamed, downloaded, and purchased on CD via Bandcamp.