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Standout Track: No. 6, “War,” an immoderately epic, 20-minute closing track that’s all gentle guitar, banjo plucking, and unintelligible goblin whispers until the three-minute mark—when the listener is ambushed by electric guitar that sounds, and feels, like a trepanning drill. That moment is the closest that Wrnlrd, an atmospheric black-metal band from Arlington, comes to conventional metal riffage on the track.
Musical Motivation: For its sixth album, the band grew from a solo project to a trio, though the ringleader remains Wrnlrd (he declines to disclose his real name), who recorded “War” in his apartment “down the road from the Pentagon.” The entire song was improvised, which presented issues, given the track’s expanse. “It was challenging to set up that kind of climactic event and render it without premeditation,” Wrnlrd says. In order to mentally prepare, Wrnlrd, 30, listened to Hemi-Sync tapes, consisting of binaural beats that are intended to synchronize the hemispheres of the brain, from the Virginia-based Monroe Institute. “I’m not sure I used the tapes properly,” Wrnlrd says. “But they did have an effect that I found useful.”
Unchained Mellowly: Regarding the specific theme of war, Wrnlrd was inspired by the works of sci-fi author Cordwainer Smith, Mark Baker’s Nam, Picasso’s Guernica, and John Denver’s anti-war spoken-word piece, “The Box.” Though the Norwegian black-metal one-man band Burzum seems like a more natural musical comparison to Wrnlrd’s atmospheric sound than, say, Denver, Wrnlrd thinks “Phil Spector or Shadow Morton just kicks Burzum’s ass in that arena. I think the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” is one of the most powerful songs ever recorded. No doubt that it influenced me somehow.”