Dryad – The Abyssal Plain (Prosthetic Records)

Who knows what really lies in the depths of the oceans?

Maybe it’s Cthulu.

Or a bunch of bioluminescent ETs, waiting to surprise an unsuspecting drilling crew.

Perhaps it’s better we don’t find out.

But Dryad delve deep into the darkness.

Despite hailing from landlocked Iowa City, they seem at home in the aquatic gloom.  

And the result is The Abyssal Plain.

The quartet’s debut album is anchored in an alien world thousands of feet beneath the surface. This is fierce black metal forged from the exoskeletons of trilobites, an undersea eruption of primeval riffs… and in the case of Loki’s Castle, a protest against humanity’s exploitation of Mother Earth. “We won’t die for men’s weak shit, they’ll dig and purge, we won’t submit,” screams vocalist/guitarist Claire Nunez.

Indeed, on the likes of Brine Pool Aberration and Trenches, Dryad blur the lines between rabid crust punk and BM.

Yet they do it in a wildly different way to contemporaries such as Dawn Ray’d, Ancst and Iskra.

The band’s use of keys, for instance, echoes Dimmu Borgir’s early work – though with considerably less bombast.

And Dryad conjure Neptunian atmospheres as the album evolves, binding its elements together with unearthly instrumental interludes such as Hadal and Raptures of the Deep. The effect is chilling. Unnerving. It makes the frenzied assault of the title track, or Eutrification, all the more devastating.

Dryad make their mark

Yes, The Abyssal Plain may revel in its primitive state.

And the lo-fi production suits Dryad’s brand of black metal.

But a dive into this record is a dive into a vivid sonic realm, as hallucinatory as the album’s artwork.

It’s one hell of a trip.

Enjoyed our review Dryad’s debut, The Abyssal Plain? Check out our Best Black Metal Albums of 2022 here.