As January is starting to hit hard here in Greece, new releases promise to keep us company through the coldest of days. The latest, cryptic EP ‘Riverside’ by Heilige! fits into the winterly mood nicely and it’s exploring themes of absence and darkness. Let’s get right into it.
‘Intro’ sends the listener into a Blair Witch Project scenario and we are left to face the vast, starless sky, the pitch black forest and its dark forces. Its unknown intentions. As we dwell in a cursed dimension between reality and the underworld, we are only guided by an owl and the pale moonlight that outlines the sleeping tree giants. The tension is rising, slowly and steadily in ‘Dark Woods’ and it’s clear that Heilige! knows how to build a narrative and keep the listener engaged. The creepy sound of claws carving on rocks could also be translated as some kind of ancient mechanism working tirelessly inside a dungeon or vise versa. And that’s what makes this genre unique after all. The boundless imagination it triggers. Sounds of nocturnal nature make the experience even more pragmatic. It’s like VR for the ears.
As the ambience flows into ‘Riverside’ like a freshly-brewed magic potion, some faded, ghastly bells and sharp, haunting keys come and go like restless spirits searching for their way home. Despite the inescapable chills, the abstract layers create a weirdly warm ethereal space, a state of trance where the static noise has become the air we breathe. In the closing ‘River of Silence’ we are given a slight taste of melody via a monotonic sound looping throughout the track as well as a newfound sense of tranquility. This final chapter feels like the light at the end of the tunnel or the acceptance needed for a soul in order to move forward and find eternal peace. A comforting ending that rewards the audience for staying until the end of this short yet unsettling experience.
In a nutshell, ‘Riverside’ manages to magnetise the listener through its majestic, evocative soundscape and seductive, occult character. Heilige! created a body of work long enough to satisfy our cravings for mystery and the unknown but short enough to avoid becoming tedious, this way striking a perfect balance. This release goes among the most cinematic entries of the Sanctum so far. Until next time!
Enjoy Riverside here: