Somber, solemn and atmospheric is the most simplistic way to describe the work by Cortland Runyon. EBON ARCANUM is a atmospheric black metal solo project from the US. As Cortland’s debut release, Awakening is the embodiment of true ambient black art. At many moments throughout listening to Awakening, many emotions will come through as if these are the recorded screams of agony from the beyond.
Cortland does many right moves in this release. The six track album starts off strong and ends strong. The intro starts with somber synths that eventually dance over the guitars and drums that tie into the next track that begins with an almost depressive black metal sound. Tracks like “Solitude” and “To Look Upon the Face of Silence” explore the realms of ambiant and atmosperic with the use of acoustics and haunting piano that stays present but not as the main focus. Most of the release does rely on the presence of keyboards and synths but not to the point of it overpowering the other distant and ethereal instrumentals. The drums sound full and deep as if recorded in the deep caves beneath the world. The vocals are otherworldly, as if emotions just flood forth from Cortland’s mouth. Keeping a moderate to slow tempo throughout the album, it adds to the already heavy blanket of dark emotion that sends the listener on a out of body journey exploring the deep and darker side of man himself.
From the intro to the last track, Awakening is an unfathomable and bleak presence upon the black metal world. This release is not at all your common simplistic riffs, poorly done instrumentals or badly written tracks. When listening, many parts of the album are similar to tracks by Woods of Desolation, Caladan Brood and Burzum without sounding like a copy. The work that Cortland has put into this release is more than most bands on big labels. This album is highly recommended for anyone who is a fan of well written black metal. Awakening will make you question existence, life and your own self.