Boomkat Product Review:
This incredibly engrossing set from John Twells is soaked in a sumptuous, almost devotional ambience. Housed in a sublime silkscreened package with artwork designed by Svarte Greiner's Erik Skodvin, the album makes gestures towards the more Aleister Crowley-ish end of the religious compass. The A-side immediately settles into a choral mode, looping voices in harmony, building up a dense wall of ecclesiastical sound that resonates with a reverberant glow. In equal parts the vocals suggest the Hilliard Ensemble and Richard Youngs - quite a combination - and given Twells' recent output, at any moment you half expect some sort of vicious, subversive elements to swamp the mix and drag you down into a black metal dirge, but that never comes. Instead, this first part of Heirs Of The Fire is an untarnished, mesmerising affair, loaded with melody and a kind of pious melancholy. On to the B-side and the vocals have evaporated altogether, giving way to a more menacing network of sounds drawing on field recordings, tolling bells and quivering resonances from tuned percussion. It's only towards the end that voices make a return to the mix, but here they've morphed into something far more pained and lupine, and in these final throes Zelienople's Mike Weis is on hand to supply percussive elements, bringing an organically evolving, carefully worked crescendo to it all. Once again there's an underlying beauty to this that transcends any implicit darkness - Heirs Of The Fire represents a thrilling departure for Twells, making a break from the rasping metallic bleakness that's informed much of his work over recent years, and the more considered, dare i say it, vulnerable sound on show here is both startling and overwhelming. Utterly wonderful.