Iselder – Metel Du Gwir Cymreig (True Welsh Black Metal)
Release Date: 15/04/22
Running Time: 28:58
Review by Dark Juan
Well now. Dark Juan here, and in an unwarranted moment of sensibility I have not yet started drinking and it is a quarter past eight on Easter Monday. Clearly either age is catching up to me or my liver has cried enough and will only accept tea from now on, which is a shame as there are 40 pints of brown ale waiting to be bottled in the pantry at Dark Juan Terrace. We will put this theory to the test in around ten days when it has conditioned in the bottle and becomes drinkable. Also, I am eyeing up the single malts that Aldi are selling for a mere £16 per bottle. I quite fancy attempting the Islay. In the meantime, the latest album on my review list is playing and I am giving it my consideration…
Ladies, gentlemen and gentlepersons, may I introduce Iselder. Iselder is a one-man Welsh Black Metal project and the man in question, Gofid (Distress in English, or possibly Trouble), is FUCKING ANGRY about what has happened to his proud nation historically at the hands of English governments and the wealthy English who came and bought all the houses and priced the rural Welsh out of their own fucking country. Now, it should be pointed out that I am English, but I lived and worked in Wales for years (even to the point of attempting to learn the language and mainly failing because I simply cannot wrap my head around all the mutations) and I have a certain sympathy for Gofid’s position because I love Wales, I loved living there and I loved the sense of community and the people, especially when Mrs Dark Juan and I opened Flibbertigibbet Tattoo (Tatw Flibbertigibbet Cymru) in Castell Newydd Emlyn many moons ago. I have many Welsh friends and was a part of the South Wales Metal scene when I played in Doomcrow. I could be considered a Welsh nationalist without actually being Welsh and I’m not sure how that could be viewed. Anyway, I’m very pro-Welsh and indeed our Head Honcho and Chief Wrangler here at Ever-Metal, Beth “Cymru Am Byth, Bitch” Jones is as Welsh as it is possible to be without being born in Splott.
Anyway, Iselder is Welsh for depression or lowness. And the music is heavily Punk-edged Black Metal, very much in the vein of the early years of Black Metal, although at least the production job is miles better than the early BM stuff that sounded like it was recorded on a 10 watt Starforce amp, with a badly tuned Stagg guitar, on a kids’ karaoke set from the opposite end of a massive, echoey hall. The description of the sound is by NO MEANS autobiographical. Iselder do still have the Lo Fi Black Metal aesthetic, but have thankfully managed to pull off a coherent sounding album.
Opening with ‘Cyflwyniad’ (‘Introduction’ – should have thought about it instead of running through Google translate with that one) Gofid reminds us just who tried eviscerating and killing off the Welsh language, who destroyed the laws of Hywel Dda and who vanquished Owain Glyndwr, who drowned the village of Capel Celyn, among others (cofiwch Dryweryn!) to create a reservoir to serve the city of Liverpool and just how Wales has been brutalised and exploited historically by England before crashing headlong into ‘I’r Gad’ (‘To Battle’ or ‘To Arms’. I actually knew that without recourse to online translators, so I’m probably wrong) and subjecting us to the kind of fury that normally can only be achieved by a lady with an arse like two poorly parked Volkswagens complaining about something trivial. Instead Gofid does it all himself – waspish, razor guitars, pounding martial drumming and rumbling, threatening bass underpin his visceral, hate filled bark on all the songs but especially vitriolic are ‘Rebecca’ (remembering the Rebecca Riots against the Turnpike Trusts in Sir Gaerfyrddin (Carmarthenshire), Sir Benfro (Pembrokeshire) and Ceredigion), ‘Llosgi Bwriadol’ (roughly translates as ‘Arson’ referencing the holiday home burnings of the late Eighties and early Nineties) and ‘Gwlad y Meirw’ (‘Land Of The Dead’ probably referencing Llanelli. The only good things to come out of Llanelli are Felinfoel Double Dragon cwrw and the roads to Swansea and Carmarthen).
I’m not sure whether saying I enjoyed this album is correct. I enjoyed the music and hearing about Wales again, but this is a record that spits hatred towards the English government. I can’t help but agree with Gofid about it all. It just goes to show how long injustice can live on in the memories of an oppressed people and how music can be a powerful reminder of that injustice.
A good record that is venomous in tone and savage in execution and has a powerful political message. It will always be an outsider in anyone’s collection but it’s a worthwhile listen and I’m with Gofid all the way. Cymru am byth, er mai Sais ydw i a cofiwch Dryweryn!
The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System awards Iselder 8/10 for a great record that reminds us of the history of Wales, bloody and otherwise.
01. Cyflwyniad (Introduction)
02. I’r Gad (To Battle or To Arms)
03. Cofio (Remember)
04. Cont (Cunt)
05. Brad y Llyfrau Glas (Betrayal of The Blue Books)
06. Llosgi Bwriadol (Arson)
08. Gwlad y Meirw (Land Of The Dead)
09. Rhyfela (War)
Gofid – fucking everything, butty bach!
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