DRYAD are releasing their epic debut full length, their first new music since signing to Prosthetic Records, today! The 13 track album – titled The Abyssal Plain – takes listeners on a literal and metaphorical explorative trip to the darkest depths of the ocean, and today we’re thrilled to take you to an ethereal journey into the depths of its lyrical content.
DRYAD’s take on black metal is as abrasive and primeval as you would hope from a band that draws their biggest lyrical influences from the furthest reaches of the ocean floor, far from even the weakest tendrils of sunlight. Their stygian take on the genre is chaotic and suitably lo-fi, but on The Abyssal Plain, the oppressive cacophony is punctuated with synth-heavy interludes heavily inspired by 80s horror movie soundtracks (think John Carpenter and Dario Argento).
The activity of the intricate ecosystems 10,000 feet below the surface of the ocean provides an abundance of material for lyrical horror stories of near-unbelievable monsters and mind-bending geological features, but DRYAD are keen to stress the environmental message woven throughout their music (the band itself is named after the mythological spirit and protector of the forests). Ocean environments are continuously being polluted and exploited for supposed human gain, and the despair and fury this elicits is palpable in the visceral sound of the band.
The real-life horrors that lurk on the deepest parts of the seafloor also serve as a metaphor for the tenebrose depths of depression and psychological struggle, reflecting a place where it is impossible for light to penetrate. And yet, even in those deepest, darkest depths, incredible creatures not only exist, but thrive – some even creating their own light – in seemingly the most inhospitable of environments. So, whilst this album is very much about the depths of the ocean and the alien creatures of the abyssal plains that lie at the bottom of our seemingly mundane Earth, it is also about feeling alone in the darkness and still creating your own light. Being able to manufacture hope in a seemingly hopeless place – both for oneself and for the future of the planet.
The Abyssal Plain was recorded in the band’s home state of Iowa by Luke Tweedy, mixed and produced by Jaxon Vesely, and co-produced by DRYAD’s Claire Nunez, before being mastered by Adam Tucker at Signaturetone. On their debut album, DRYAD have crafted an syntheses of sound – forged from foundations that are part horror story, part rallying cry.
DRYAD is: Claire Nunez – Vocals, Guitar, Synths, Grimmtooth – Vocals, Guitar, Joe Milik – Bass, Oliver Weilein – Drums
DRYAD’s ‘The Abyssal Plain’ is due out on January 20, order here
Claire Nunez (guitar / vocals / synths): Each track of The Abyssal Plain is another spiraling step down into the depths of the ocean, a constant audial descent into the dark unknown from the clear blue waters above. It is a musical fever dream from which there is no escape. The introductory track “Counterillumination” is a blackened hymn to the bioluminescent creatures that illuminate the stygian darkness at the bottom of the ocean – an instrumental ode to the living lights that beckon and dance deep below the surface in the mysterious depths of the Abyssal Plain. What strange secrets of our aqueous planet lurk beneath its waters?
The album’s introductory track was also one of the earliest songs composed for The Abyssal Plain, although it went through several transformations between its initial creation and the version heard on the record. The subtle, haunting sounds of otherworldly ocean creatures throughout this song were painstakingly recorded live by our drummer, Oliver, in the midnight hours of the last night at the studio.
Claire: As one gazes into the hypnotic depths, the swirling void begins to grow closer. Gravity reaches up to pull you down into the darkness, and the light above begins to fade. As your vision dims, you begin to blindly sense the writhing rot and horrors at the bottom of the abyssal plain that awaits below.
“Bottomfeeder” is an allegorical tale of the corrupt, soul-sucking individuals that create the crooked systems only they will ever benefit from, written from the perspective of the filth itself. These cursed detrivores of the ocean floor feed upon death and decay, profiting off of misfortune and misery and reveling in scum. There is no hope of redemption for these wretched monsters.
Brine Pool Aberration
Claire: Our second single off of the album, “Brine Pool Aberration” continues our descent into delirium with a strange gleam of alien light in a moment of dark despair. Enraptured by the depths, a glimmer of hope and madness alike begin to take shape below… a seemingly impossible lake beneath an ocean, a dream within a dream. The mind can only guess at the illuminating horrors which lie within the anoxic brine.
Though they may seem like a tempting refuge for a weary traveler from above, the lack of oxygen in the water means that almost any organism will suffocate in these pools almost instantly, and the brine preserves them forever as they sink to the bottom, an eerie graveyard that lurks just out of sight for the next curious creature. The song itself is a subtle subtext of a mind slowly warped into madness by melancholy, deceiving itself into pursuing the darkness instead of the light. There are a truly maddening amount of subtle synth layers on this particular track to help illustrate the point.
Claire: As we plunge into the deepest trenches of this abyssal plain, it seems as though the descent to hell will never truly end now, and yet – perhaps one must go all the way down in order to rise up again.
A rallying battle cry against the suffocating gloom, “Trenches” fights back against the previous track’s feelings of hopelessness by reminding us that when all seems lost to the blackness, it is still possible to emit a light of counterillumination from within. It’s an anthem about self-reliance in the abyss, and facing your fears in the dark – creating a bioluminescent glow of optimism in a seemingly endless night.
Claire: A glowing shape looms up out of the murky black – the fiery volcanic fury of Loki’s castle lies just across the chasm. Teeming with life unique only to this formation, the towers of iron sulfide billow with black smoke that beckons forth, if only one can brave the nethermost depths of the ocean first.
This track is a grinding hardcore call to arms to protect our precious deep-sea fortresses from the inevitable greedy attempts by corruption to harness their energy. When we wrote this song a few years ago, it was a theoretical concept, but now there have been actual expeditions by corporations to begin staking claim to the untamed ocean floor. These structures house creatures only found in specific volcanic formations, such as the actual Loki’s Castle – a very real series of five hydrothermal vents found in the deep sea between Norway and Greenland, the most northerly active vents found to date.
Claire: Sinking below the edge of the chasm, the void of the trench seems to stretch for eternity in all directions. We’ve reached the deepest part of the ocean now – the Hadal or “hell” zone, the abode of the dead. The pressure of the darkness is crushing. Can nothing survive in this accursed dark?
This instrumental track is also the halfway point of the album, and is a purposeful bridge between sides A and B on the record and tape. The intent was to convey that purely horrible sinking feeling, both figuratively and literally, using a simple half-step descending scale on the synths. The instrumentals were all inspired by horror movie soundtracks, but this particular interlude had a significant influence from John Carpenter’s musical work.
Claire: The darkness seems to weigh less, and there’s a change in you now. You’ve adapted and evolved in the seemingly inhospitable pit of the ocean – the primordial depths awakened something both new and ancient, deep in your core. An eternal flame within illuminates your path to the surface, but perhaps you belong to the dark now…
Our third single is a sordid tale of extremophile beings surviving, and even thriving, in a place where no life should be able to exist; an incisive allegory of persistence and intention in a dark ocean of hopelessness and melancholy. The worm itself survives on the precipice of the hydrothermal vents in the deepest fathoms of the ocean, being constantly boiled alive – yet it has evolved to remain not only unscathed, but nurtured by the torrid waters themselves. An inexplicable sign of life in the vast and hellish gloom; a miraculous creature of the stygian depths, too weird to live and too rare to die.
Claire: There’s a glimmer of movement in the pulsating shadows above – the glowing eyes of a Chimæra Monstrosa, the ghost shark of the abyssal plain, and one of the most ancient creatures of the ocean itself. The illuminating gaze of the prehistoric fish meets your own, and faint memories of light permeate a mind flooded with darkness.
This was one of the first interludes written for the album, and yet it was the last song to find a spot in the tracklisting. Like all of the instrumentals on the album, this song was recorded entirely in Claire’s home studio.
The Abyssal Plain
Claire: At last, we arrive at the abyssal plain itself; a desolate realm where creatures of the void reign supreme, and the light above is naught to be found. This is the kingdom of shadows, a place of oppressive darkness and crushing despair; a shock of Cimmerian shade that dizzies the mind into a delirium. A place of summoned monsters both real and imagined. And yet…a shimmer of impossible incandescence dances in the periphery of the void.
The title track is one of the most punishing songs on the album, both musically and lyrically, as well as one of the more vulnerable. It is a siren song from the depths of the ocean and the depths of melancholy alike. The Abyssal Plain is the point beyond rationality, where impossible phantasms and warped thoughts become tangible horrors of the darkness.
Claire: The billowing clouds of black smoke envelop you in another layer of smothering twilight, and all hope seems lost now…yet a glint of bioluminescence guides you forward ever still. As you draw closer, the seemingly barren towers pulse with life in all dimensions, and complex communities of creatures are revealed beneath the murky black clouds. Although it is a vast and alien landscape full of mystery and tribulation, you are never truly alone in the abyss.
Our lead single circles back to our classic themes of conservation – a rallying battle cry to save the diverse ecosystems of the hydrothermal vents from inevitable exploitation and destruction before it’s too late. The discussion of how best to exploit their energy continues to grow, and there is not much time left before our most precious resource is ruined by the hands of a greedy few. This is where life on earth is hypothesized to have begun – deep down in the ocean, beneath clouds of smoke, at the gateway to its volcanic core.
Raptures Of The Deep
Claire: Your mind is twisted and you’ve lost all sense of direction and self now – yet there’s a growing feeling of comfort and familiarity to the darkness, as though you’ve always been and always will be here. You’ve almost reached the end of this phantasmic journey. Nothing makes sense, but the dissonance is strangely harmonic. As above, so below.
Nitrogen narcosis, or the “rapture of the deep”, is a state of confusion and disorientation that occurs in divers at greater depths, which can often cause hallucinations and sudden euphoria or depression. The effects are completely reversible if only one can think clearly enough to ascend, but sanity and logic are frail and tenuous safety nets of the human mind, and sometimes the call of the depths is too strong to resist.
These instrumental interludes are meant as quiet moments of reflection between the chaos, small breaths of air thousands of miles below the surface. This one in particular felt like one last breath before the final part of an increasingly warped musical exploration down into the depths of madness.
Claire: The suffocating darkness is closing in, and there is nothing left to distract from the final howling nothingness that is inside you. This is the endless abyss of the mind. Will you give in to the pressure, or evolve the counterillumination to survive it?
The finale of the album leaves the listener with more questions than answers, meant as a cliffhanger rather than a resolution. There is hope and despair alike, and it’s up to each individual to decide what note they end upon.
A Nagging Thought (Abyssobrotula)
Claire: Wherever you are now, you have adapted, grown and flourished – yet a part of you longs for the other place that teases at the edge of your memories. Perhaps it was all a dream…or a nightmare. At the end of all of these trials and tribulations, what have you become?
This is the culmination of the fever dream – one last gasp of delirium before the terror is over. You have survived The Abyssal Plain.