The Glinting Spade
~review by Aaron Garland
First off, my apologies to the members of In Gowan Ring for not reviewing this release until now which has been available for roughly a year. Anyway, IGR is mainly the brainchild of voice/lyricist B'eirth who also utilizes a wide variety of eclectic instrumentation including cittern, zither, psaltery, and various gongs, bells, flutes and whistles. Six other members make appearances as well and add to the musical tapestry of the songs, with B'eirth's light, carefully-paced verses and guitar melodies as the focal point.
For those who haven't heard In Gowan Ring, it is my guess that The Glinting Spade offers a good representation of their overall sound - soft and deliberately slow-paced ( akin to walking on eggshells) with periodical upbeat forays into folk and somewhat regal-sounding rhythms. Modern medieval music, perhaps?
The lyrics speak for themselves quite succinctly, as witnessed in a few lines from "To Thrum A Glassy Stem" - 'Words to thin cracked leaves/Like the folds of an angels wing/or the crack in a devil's smile/Poetry for kin and fey/or the unsuspecting seeker'. "Cipher's String on the Tree in the Dream of the Queen", the nearly 15 minute epic centerpiece of this release, seems to focus on the tradition of poetry and song as it is passed down through history - always surviving and transcending however dormant, the recurring cycles of night and day, the seasons, and ultimately, life and death. Part of a verse echoes, 'Hear the memories of a thousand songs/Fleeting, they were never written/From the stories of the Sleeping Queen/That scribes have all forgotten'. Additionally, this piece fades with a wonderfully rustic and folky outro that seems to spring out of nowhere yet fits right into place.
It is that latter quality of In Gowan Ring which I find easiest to warm up to. However, like all challenging music, it may take more than one listen for some to fully appreciate what "The Glinting Spade" has to offer.