The sophomore effort from Italy’s Emyn Muil is a strong reminder of the power of timing. A band need not necessarily be the absolute best at their trade to get attention, they just need to make sure the originators and/or superior purveyors haven’t released anything in a while. When you haven’t had a perfectly grilled hamburger in months, Burger King tastes mighty good.
In the case of Elenion Ancalima, its release comes conveniently during inactive times for Summoning or Caladan Brood. Since they are dropping this album a full four years removed from Old Mornings Dawn and Echoes of Battle, Emyn Muil can help to sate fans’ desires for epic, atmospheric, Casio-key-driven black metal. It doesn’t reach the heights of Summoning’s best or Caladan Brood’s masterful debut, but eagle calls and all, it hits a very specific spot when the hunger is highest.
Emyn Muil’s lone member, Saverio Giove, really only plays “black metal” in a sense of its musical heritage and evolution, as this is just as driven by slow, marching drums and various keyboard sounds (a lot of “flute” and “bells”) as it is by blackened riffs and harsh vocals. This type of metal takes the hypnotic qualities of “true” black metal and removes all aggression and violence, making everything relaxing by design. From the Light Bombast of the more typical songs through the all-keys-and-female-vocals of the closing title track, Elenion Ancalima is thoroughly and unabashedly pretty.
This is of course exactly how Summoning does it, and the music of Emyn Muil is largely indistinguishable from that of their main heroes. This might even be more wispy than Summoning, with only parts of the lengthy “The Lay of Númenorë” having anything approaching the majestic arcs of Caladan Brood. None of this is a knock on the album, as Emyn Muil does this style as well as any band not already named in this review. Elenion Ancalima also has the distinction of being barely over 40 minutes in length, which makes it an easier album to process than many of Summoning’s very lengthy offerings.
With Summoning having already released so many albums in the past 20-plus years, and Caladan Brood upping the game for the style with their debut, the need for Emyn Muil is not exactly great. Then again, not a lot of bands do this very specific style, and fewer still do it really well. When you count in the convenient timing, Elenion Ancalima ought to be welcomed with hungry ears by Mithril-clad listeners. A calming breeze of blackened muzak, this one.