Finnish artist Rioghan is a charming and off-the-beaten-path presence on the country’s ever-expanding metal scene. This solo project was founded in 2019 in Lapua, Finland, and it offers a delightful combination of Gothic melancholy and progressive intricacies. The 4-track debut EP, “Blackened Sky,” was released on March 10th, 2021, via Inverse Records.
I have always considered metal to be poetry set to music. In Rioghan’s case, this is exactly how things are. Rioghan Darcy is a poet and lyricist who started her career in 2010, but in 2019 she had the idea of putting her words to music. So, she joined forces with skilled songwriters and musicians that helped her realize her vision, which materialized in the form of “Blackened Sky.”
During its 15 minutes of run-time, the songs offer a glimpse into the multifaceted and versatile world of Rioghan as each song is different from the others. First off is “Hollowness,” a song that centers mostly on the soft, fragile vocals, which are beautifully supported by a diaphanous backing orchestration and sparse keys. The ethereal atmosphere has some subtle Gothic undertones that give the track a certain aura of melancholy and darkness. On the other end of the spectrum, “Enough” is more lively and energetic, almost rockish at times, with some groovy guitar riffs and tribal-sounding drums. The vocals are powerful and switch to rough in parts of the chorus in order to accentuate certain moods and feelings.
Symphonic accents and electronic layers merge in “Wither” to create a fresh soundscape. The gravity of the cello contrasts with the techno/pop-like vocals, thus adding nuance and texture to the lyrics. It’s an interesting mix of instruments and sounds that works better than expected. Acoustic guitars, cello lines, and piano melodies are the backbone of “Corrupt” as the instruments blend together to create a very Gothic atmosphere. The vocals feel lamenting and sober as Rioghan uses her lower range to add more emotion to the lyrics. The track feels calm yet a bit unnerving, closing the EP on a darker note.
All-in-all, this EP is a wonderful presentation of what Rioghan can offer music fans, metal or otherwise, as it’s difficult to put a specific label on her music. Nonetheless, the blending of different genres is well done as each of the four tracks brings something different to the table. Approach “Blackened Sky” with an open mind and enjoy the ride through alternative soundscapes.
Written by Andrea Crow
Rioghan – vocals