SCÁTH NA DÉITHE – VIRULENT PROVIDENCE (Vendetta Records)
Ancient Ireland’s harrowing and traumatic history – one of unimaginable hardship and suffering – is laid bare in a rich bounty of folklore that has dutifully been passed down with enthusiasm and no shortage of fanciful fabrication from one generation to the next. In digesting and evaluating these tall and oftentimes terrible tales, Scáth na Déithe identifies with and channels the plight and fate of a persecuted people long gone. ‘Virulent Providence’, the latest heartfelt evocation from this unique one-man entity, taps into the collective memory of shared trauma and anguish hidden in the dark folkloric stories that have become an inherent part of Irish culture.
In keeping with the weight and enormity of the subject matter, the music on Scáth na Déithe’s third full-length bristles and surges wildly with almost overwhelming emotion. Thundering across the aeons, ‘Virulent Providence’ is the audial equivalent of a storm from the past. A shamanic sonic conjuration, one might say. Rage, sorrow, anger, regret and a deep sense of honour are evident in the two lengthy offerings that constitute this immense 40-minute record. The atmosphere harnessed is decidedly harrowing and dark, words and music plucked from the soul and spirit as much as anywhere else.
The haunting yet delightful artwork on the cover serves as a fitting accompaniment to the music, which is itself timeless and majestic, at times forlorn, soaked in doom and despair but suffused with a strength and defiance to counter and complement the pathos. The album is masterfully composed and executed, sublimely paced, flowing seamlessly, mournful guitars and keys merging with rolling, ominous drums and fierce, powerful vocals to forge an evocative body of work that exists on the intense side of atmospheric Black Metal, building to a merciless zenith during the tempestuous, torrential course of ‘Virulent Providence Part 2’.
Both libations impress and captivate but the true power and might of Scáth na Déithe is most effectively captured in its truest essence during the cascading, tumultuous second track, which represents a particularly frightening expulsion of energy. The suffering of generations long dissolved to dust is communicated uncannily as somehow Scáth na Déithe, as a modern-day interpreter and storyteller, completes the circle and becomes part of the very culture and legacy it celebrates and communicates so effectively.