All the best things to come in life are purely unexpected, and Banshee from abriction is one such thing.

Release date: February 9, 2024 | Independent | Instagram | Bandcamp | Listen/Stream

As much as I love to write about artists that I already enjoy and am familiar with, I find myself gravitating towards releases that are completely new discoveries when it comes to writing reviews. The moment I find something special, I take it upon myself to put some big blocks of text together about it as a means to make it easier for at least one other person to discover and fall in love such an album with as much as I have; this review is exactly one of those types of things. Behold abriction’s Banshee, a prime and elegantly executed example of musical synergy when it comes to experimental blackgaze.

I’d run out of hands and feet if I were to count the amount of solo black metal projects that are out there today, all likely starting out as a bedroom project at some point, but you can’t really tell as technological advancements in musical recording has and continues to go so far. On the other hand, ‘bedroom pop’ is a term/genre that exists in which that lo-fi type of sound is the sonic aesthetic that the artist is intentionally going for, as it does have a certain charm that can’t be replicated otherwise. With all that being said, we have abriction (with Meredith Salvatori being the sole creative driving force), which is the precise embodiment of both of these types of musical bedroom personas.

I’ll be straight up and say that I honestly don’t know what the musical foundation is behind Banshee. Just when I think it’s a blackgaze record with electronic bedroom pop embellishments, the next handful of songs flips me to thinking it’s an electronic bedroom pop album with black metal/shoegaze touches; at the end of the day, does it really matter? The mere fact that I am so confused on what this is at its core is testament to how well literally everything is executed and paced throughout the record. Musically, it is everything and everywhere, all at once (fantastic flick).

If those ‘trve’ black metal gatekeepers thought Deafheaven’s Sunbather was too hipster to be metal and a stain on the genre for whatever reason that makes absolutely zero sense, I can’t even begin to fathom how they’d react to Banshee; now that mental gymnastics is something I’d pay money to see. With how the record opens up with the already diverse “Pale Morning Horizon”, you’re still only getting the smallest inkling of exposure to what is heard on the rest of the record. This track in particular is the more conventional of the bunch, featuring a black metal compositional skeleton with subtle touches from various other genres that abriction will fully indulge in later on to give it some flavor and set it apart from black metal contemporaries. “Pale Morning Horizon” is the musical litmus test here, as from that point onwards, the acid trip commences and there is no turning back.

There is no shortage of special moments throughout Banshee, ranging from anthemic vocal melodies overlayed heavily textured electronic soundscapes as heard in “Relieved Of All Senses”, “Souls”, “Redshift”, to hauntingly beautiful and trippy ambient interludes/passages a la “Everything you know will eventually be destroyed” and “Grey City Sky” amongst others.  The songs on Banshee all offer so much variety, constantly evolving and treading new ground with each passing minute, whilst simultaneously revisiting and referring to previous melodic motifs. The end result is this massive musical amalgam that is immensely satisfying in how it all comes full circle, yet it concurrently pushes the boundaries.

One of my absolute favorite things about this record as a whole is the masterful guitar lead work sprinkled throughout. While these melodies themselves may be straight-forward, they’re written and performed so elegantly amongst the hypnotic acid-drenched electronic backdrop that it just resonates with you so much more and lives rent-free in the back of your mind. Passages such as the outro to “Teal Rain” to the guitar solos in “Souls” and “Where Roses Once Bloomed” and the harmony during the chorus of “Redshift” are all standout moments for me and I look forward to them every single playthrough. Another highlight is “Grey City Sky”, a purely instrumental trip-fest of a track that encapsulates what I love about electronic music. There are so many luscious layers that I could just drown in them.

On paper and in practice from a musical perspective, Banshee is one of those things that should just not work whatsoever, nevertheless abriction’s Meredith Salvatori is quite possibly the only person on Earth who could defy all odds and conceive such gorgeous musical madness. While the music intentionally may be a little rough around the edges at times in pursuit of that lo-fi aesthetic, it is the fact that my expectations continued to be shattered with each successive track, leaving me pleasantly surprised in so many different ways. I was constantly wondering where the music would go next and that suspense is what I have been craving from music nowadays. Banshee is bold and uncompromising in its musical vision, which are the traits absolutely necessary to birth such a musical gem like this.

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