Fans of Phil Elverum, mastermind behind Mount Eerie (as well as the now-defunct Microphones), probably found it odd when he claimed black metal as the inspiration for his group's latest album, the dense, enthralling and rewarding Wind's Poem. As the dust settles on opener "Wind's Dark Poem," with pulsating distortion, cacophonous thumping and wicked, bellowing guitar—while Elverum's gentle, hushed voice lightly crawls through the chaos—it is clear that Elverum's black metal is a different breed.
Those looking for anything as heavy as the album's opening salvo will immediately be surprised by what follows: "Through the Trees," an 11-minute airy track of gorgeous organ exhales and ephemeral arraignments. In fact, the album's metal moments all but disappear after that initial burst—there are the savage guitar slashes on "The Hidden Stone" and the dissonant squalls of "The Mouth of Sky" that remind listeners of the album's underpinning.
Still, the album's best moments are its quieter passages. The baritone guitar reverb and vibrato electronics of "Ancient Questions" and the Twin Peaks-thieving (and saluting) synthesizer ballad "Between Two Mysteries" are astounding. Meanwhile, "Lost Wisdom, Pt. 2" makes the best of both worlds, with its bellicose opening giving way to buzzing electronic gusts and small percussive armies crashing quietly in the background.
Sure, there's an unfortunate digression into noisy excess on the mercifully brief song "(Something)," but Wind's Poem succeeds because of Elverum's appropriately exercised black-metal inspiration and complex yet accessible musical structures.