Soil Bleeds Black, The – Lead into Gold

It was some time ago that I listened to The Soil Bleeds Black, the neo-medievalists from the USA, who are active for a decade now. I only know the first two albums from the project around the Riddick brothers, which could not entirely convince me through their highly synthetic character and a bit exaggerated amount of fantasy samples. Since then I only came across some scattered Soil Bleeds Black songs on samplers, with a varying quality. But I was nevertheless tempted to buy this new mini LP, partly out of curiosity how The Soil Bleeds Black would sound nowadays, partly because this vinyl release looked so attractive. And already after the first listening turn I realized that I did not need to regret my purchase, “Lead into Gold” contains some fine music of a project which has greatly matured.

The front and back of the sleeve have a minimal design in a grey colour. When you fold it out you see a large bandphoto (with Mike and Mark Ridick and Eugenia Wallace) and some credits, which show that the band has recorded two traditionals. Further you get a small insert poster with some track info and a postcard. The thick 10″ vinyl itself has a flashy bright yellow colour, with black dots on it, creating a psychedelic effect.

‘Song of the wood’, the first of the seven tracks starts with acoustic guitars, the whistling of birds and nice soft male and female vocals. Later a flute joins in. It’s an intimate folky song with a 60’s feel to it, reminding me of In Gowan Ring and Backworld. The short instrumental title track is more bombastic, with some medieval instruments (probably the lyre) and heavy drumming. Do the alchimists need so little time to turn lead into gold? Very nice is ‘So saith the song of Sigurd’, with acoustic guitars, some minimal ritual percussion, flutes and conjuring female vocals. ‘A song for thy Lady, Fair and Chaste’ is then again more medieval in nature, making it not too difficult for you to imagine a courtyard full of festive activities.

Side B is kicked off with ‘The sweetness of spring’, another joyous medieval ballad. I can see green fields, fresh flowers and newborn animals. The traditional ‘Dum Pater Familias’ is more majestic, probably it is performed for an audience of kings and queens. It has a full sound in the refrain, with inviting drumming and several voices, sounding almost like a choir, which is nicely alternated with solitary singing parts. The record is concluded by one of the highlights, ‘Tristant Muose Sunder Danc, with a melody based on a traditional called ‘Albanisches’. It combines an uptempo percussion-based refrain with ritual spoken vocals.

“Lead into Gold” is a wonderful release, which will please both medieval fans (except for purists) and lovers of psychedelic folk music.

artist: Soil Bleeds Black, The
label: Lichtbringer
details: 10', 7 songs, 33 min. limited to 484 copies.