Desolate North

Desolate North
Desolate North
Studio album by Celestiial
Released 2006
Recorded Azrael's rehearsal space / Tanner Anderson's house
Genre Funeral doom metal
Label Bindrune Recordings
Producer None
Professional reviews

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Celestiial chronology
Desolate North
Celestiial / Blood of the Black Owl

Desolate North is the debut studio album by the funeral doom metal band Celestiial, released by Bindrune Recordings in 2006. It comprised the five tracks from Celestiial's demo, Ashen, combined with three more tracks recorded separately. It was written and performed entirely by Tanner Anderson, the sole member of Celestiial, and was never written to be an album or to be performed.

The recording of the album was also done entirely by Anderson, and was done in three parts. Firstly, the material for Ashen was recorded at the rehearsal space he shared with the black metal band Azrael, then the three extra tracks were recorded at the same place, and then the hard pieces were recorded at Anderson's home.

The album received mixed reviews—some critics claimed it was fresh and a new sound, while others argued it was very similar to music already available. The music itself has been described as extremely slow, with various woodland sounds, such as running water and footsteps. Many people have drawn a comparison to dark ambient through sound, and black metal through imagery.



The album was recorded in three parts. The first of these was to record the music for Ashen, which was done in a wooden loft in the corner of the rehearsal space used by Azrael, of whom Anderson was, at the time, a member. Anderson stated that he does not remember how long this recording took him, as he slept there after finishing the recording, but described that space as being perfect for the recording as there was nothing there to distract him.[1]

As everything was recorded and played by Anderson, the only option was to record the album in layers. First, he recorded the drums, using a drum kit. However, he was unhappy with the way they sounded, and so re-recorded on a drum machine. The next layers to be recorded were the guitar, bass and vocals, with other sounds being added later.[1]

Of the other three songs, one was recorded at the same place in early 2005, and the other two, the harp songs, were recorded at Anderson's home. He has said how this was the most difficult part of the recording. As it happened, Anderson misplaced his microphone stand and so recorded those two songs with the microphone tucked under his chin. Despite the hindrance, Anderson claimed that the microphone picked up everything, and he was happy with the result.[1]

Anderson has described the process as giving the album a "raw" sound,[2] and he has hypothesized that it is because of the raw sound of the album that critics have described his work as having influences from black metal.[3] Although the album has been criticised because of its production by some reviewers,[4][5] others have praised it as having the right sound.[6] However, a different reviewer even praised the album for its high quality recording, explaining that it "is not raw, necro black metal at all."[7]


"Maybe six or so copies" of Ashen were sent out to various people, and Marty Rytkonen, of Bindrune Recordings, was the only person attached to a record label to receive a copy.[1] Celestiial was then taken on by Bindrune, something which Anderson has, on multiple occasions, talked about how happy he was with, due to the fact he was an avid reader of Worm Gear (a magazine attached to the label) when he was younger.[1][3] Despite the fact that Anderson had not written Desolate North with the intention of it ever being released,[3] in 2006, it was released by Bindrune Recordings.[8]

Musical style

Desolate North has been described as taking "the template of the funeral doom genre... and disembowel[ing] the formula even further".[9] The album makes use of minimal vocals, instead relying on electronics, guitars, and syncopated drums (with liberal use of cymbals). These sounds are also backed up by more traditional instruments, such as harps and Native American flutes.[10] Additionally, sampled sounds, such as footsteps, water, birdsong, and wind are used.[9]

Celestiial is a funeral doom metal band.[10][9][11] However, Desolate North has been described as taking the genre in new directions with comparisons to ambient, goth, experimental, and dark folk music being made.[9] The music has also been described as meditative[12] and medieval.[11]

Anderson admits that there may be death metal influences in the vocals, but says that it was not a conscious design, and that the music does not have any other similarities to death metal. He claims that there are no black metal influences. He says that describing Celestiial's music as folk is a bad idea, as folk is such a broad, vague description as to make it meaningless. He says that what he is creating is neither folk, nor traditional, and even the harp songs are not traditional works, though they are influenced by the traditional music of the United Kingdom and traditional Irish music.[3]


A publicity photo used by the band. It shows Anderson holding a piece of bark, demonstrating the band's heavy use of natural imagery.

Desolate North uses imagery very much based around nature, with natural sounds sampled in the music, and imagery involving woodland, and, as one reviewer put it, "the scary places that we all fear when the lights are out".[10] Bindrune recordings describes this affinity for nature by saying that "Celestiial was created to mirror mysticism in nature."[8]

Some critics have talked of a black metal influence in imagery.[13] Anderson responded to the claim of black metal influence by stating that he does not know why people compare his music to black metal; he hypothesized that it is simply the raw production of the music, or the double 'i' in the band name.[3]

Anderson was once asked about whether there were any pagan beliefs in Celestiial. He responded that Celestiial "is romanticized Paganism with very real Pagan values behind it."[1] He talked of how Celestiial celebrated paganism and the natural world, but that paganism is often viewed as something that it is not.[1]


Desolate North received numerous positive reviews[9][10][14] with comparisons to founders of the genre, such as Disembowelment.[9][10][12] Reviews varied in terms of the originality of the music—while some claimed that it was new and inventive,[9] others said that it was very typical funeral doom metal.[10] Negative reviews and comments talked about the poor production and guitars,[11] and the lack of speed in the music, combined with the monotony of the sound.[10] One reviewer said that the lack of speed meant that the music could not be counted as heavy metal,[4] to which Marty Worm, of Bindrune Recordings, responded "If you were expecting "riffs" or definite hooks, then I can understand the disappointment. Desolate North is all about vibe... some get it and appreciate this album, others don't."[4]

Track listing

  1. "Into this Earth of Shallow Intent"[8] – 2:00[15]
  2. "Haunting Cries Beneath the Lake Where Our Queen Once Walked"[8] – 8:56[15]
  3. "Lamentations in the Citadel of God"[8] – 10:48[15]
  4. "Desolate North"[8] – 2:47[15]
  5. "Thule"[8] – 8:08[15]
  6. "Hinterland"[8] – 2:16[15]
  7. "Waldlander im Herbst"[8] – 8:59[15]
  8. "Ashen"[8] – 2:11[15]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Interview with Tanner Anderson". Dark Recollections (recognised by Bindrune Recordings). Archived from the original on 2009-10-25. Retrieved 2007-04-02. 
  2. ^ Anderson, Tanner; Bindrune Recordings (2007-03-18). "Celestiial news". Bindrune. Retrieved 2007-04-02. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Interview with Tanner Anderson". Absolute Zero Media Magazine LLC. 2006-08-22. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-03-27. 
  4. ^ a b c Sessions, Chris. "Review of Celestiial- Desolate North". Metal Review. Retrieved 2007-03-19. [dead link]
  5. ^ Coluccio, Ignacio (May 2006). "CELESTIIAL - Desolate North - CD - Bindrune Recordings - 2006". Issue 44. Maelstrom. Retrieved 2007-04-09. 
  6. ^ "Daredevil Music's Desolate North review". Daredevil Music/Bindrune Recordings. Retrieved 2007-04-09. 
  7. ^ Kelly, Kim (2006-12-07). "Celestiial- Desolate North". Pivotal Alliance. Retrieved 2007-03-19. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Bindrune Recordings: Celestiial". Bindrune Recordings. Retrieved 2007-02-02. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Seward, Scott. "Celestiial Desolate North". Decibel Magazine. Archived from the original on 2006-06-15. Retrieved 2007-01-30. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Batmaz, Murat (2006-06-02). "Review: "Celestiial:Desolate North"". Sea of Tranquility. Retrieved 2007-01-30. 
  11. ^ a b c Coluccio, Ignacio. "CELESTIIAL - Desolate North - CD - Bindrune Recordings - 2006". Issue 44. Maelstrom. Retrieved 2007-01-30. 
  12. ^ a b Bengtson, Tate. "Reviews (Celestiial)". Issue 31. Unrestrained! Magazine. Archived from the original on 2006-08-21. Retrieved 2007-01-30. 
  13. ^ Stosuy, Brandon (2006-08-09). "Show No Mercy". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2007-05-05. 
  14. ^ "Desolate North Reviews". Numerous/Bindrune Recordings. Retrieved 2007-04-13. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h "Desolate North". Encyclopaedia Metallum. Retrieved 2007-04-11. 

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