Review: Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge ‘Blitz Sessions’

Blitz Sessions is the debut album from Norwegian instrumental crew Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge itself is a vast coastal plain spanning 19 million acres which provides a largely unspoiled habitat to countless shorebirds and is a vital breeding site for migratory wildfowl. This sense of bleak wilderness and beauty is clearly a major inspiration for the band who only sometimes allow the menace of man-made peril to encroach on their sound.

Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge 'Blitz Sessions'

Godthåb (Good Hope) opens the album, drenched in reverb and reminiscent of Zahari Tzigularov’s excellent The Matterhorn Project. Wailing guitars and synth duel with the bass to create the trance like effect of the best modern post-rock, before hitting a crescendo with more aggressive percussion heralding a cacophony of squealing guitar and synth to close.

Godthåb leads directly into Cape Sarichef Light, named for the most isolated lighthouse off North America, and again the music conjured by the youngsters of YDNWR is extremely evocative of the title matter. Creeping guitar fuel a sense of mental disturbance that must have been hard to fend off for the early lighthouse keepers of the 20th century. So isolated is the station that four years of service was punctuated with a full year of shore bound leave, still certainly a vocation for only the strong willed and those happy within their own thoughts. Crashing drum work from Bjørn Trygve Skjerstad as we reach the climax of the track is redolent of the Pacific waves that smash the Cape Sarichef Light. Understandably, the lighthouse is now fully automated, but the deep respect that we should feel for those who risked physical and mental health to protect the sailors and explorers of the far north remains, and is given voice by this impressive band.

a hugely impressive debut from a group that easily have the potential to become one of the outstanding bands of their genre…

A tribute to the colossal number of wildlife destroyed, or displaced, in the Australian bushfires of last year makes up the two closing tracks New South Wales Part 1 and Part 2. Sombre synth led atmospherics lead to the most classically metal part of the album so far in Part 1. Guitars rage as the band summon an anger not felt within the earlier parts of the album. The inferno section at the end will bring to mind the heavier moments of Godspeed You! Black Emperor as threat, and danger, become the leading emotion towards the end of the first part.

Chiming chords channel the bleakness that follows uncontrollable wildfire at the beginning of the second part, with the faintest feeling that hope could be on the horizon. Like the eucalyptus seeds released to germinate by the very fires they fuelled, there is a hint of optimism in the latter sections of New South Wales, only to be damned again as the band combine to quash any encouraging aura they have created. The record closes with a pounding riff and a squall of feedback that is fitting for a composition filled with such emotion.

Overall this is a hugely impressive debut from a group that easily have the potential to become one of the outstanding bands of their genre. An extremely creditable piece of work from a young band with a lot more to accomplish.

Label: Independent
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram

Scribed by: Ian M