This is one of those releases that you can absolutely guarantee you are going to enjoy as soon as you press the play button. I have always been a huge fan of the output of Nottingham’s one man atmospheric dream machine Arx Atrata and, although less familiar with the the Bleakwinter Shrine project, I know enough about it, and the face behind it, to hold out an equal wingspan of hope for it.
This collection of instrumental tracks, spliced together with ethereal, otherworldly interludes from Atrata’s alter-ego, is a magical and meditational trance – the likes of which do not fall from the celestial ether very often. Bleakwinter Shrine unleashes a transfiguration of blissful post-black metal meanderings that inject forlorn and forsaken reflections on the subject matter, before the quite sublime Arx Atrata washes through in a never-ending vapour of quite exquisite atmospheric extremity.
Splits can be, for me, a divisive affair – mainly because so many are designed to shoe-horn tracks from a couple of bands together and badged as some kind of ‘mosaic’ when they are often nothing more than a couple of bands with a couple of tracks who can’t be arsed/can’t find the time/can’t afford/can’t find the inspiration (delete as appropriate) to write a fuller length offering. However, on ‘The Warrior Cycle’, the term ‘split’ is utterly inappropriate – given that this is one of the most cohesive, complementary and tenacious releases I have heard in a long, long time.