A Nanaimo duo have turned a 12th-century Latin composition into a brooding doom metal dirge.
Last week Caedmon’s Dream – vocalist Tara Stadnyk and guitarist Dallas Kruszelnicki – released their latest single, O Ecclesia. It’s a cover of a piece written by medieval German composer Hildegard von Bingen that tells the story of St. Ursula, who according to legend was martyred with 11,000 virgins.
“We definitely feel very drawn to the medieval period as far as art, history, and the styles of music,” Stadnyk said. “The medieval modes that they play in just lends itself so well to that heavy metal sound that we love.”
Kruszelnicki said the “doomy” subject matter of the song reminded him of ’70s metal progenitors Black Sabbath, whose heavy, slogging guitar sound informed his performance. The pair recorded the single themselves in a single improvised take in the studio in their attic.
“[Kruszelnicki] comes up with these riffs and then I start singing and it takes a lot of practice to get the flow of the piece … where the guitar comes in and where the voice comes in, but we really just read each other,” Stadnyk explained. “He watches my breath and he watches my signals.”
Singing in ancient languages is Stadnyk’s specialty. She has sung in Old Norse and Babylonian and said she’ll be exploring Old English and Slavic languages in the future. She said it’s an interest that stems from her education.
“I did two degrees in English and they were really focused around classical medieval and Renaissance history,” Stadnyk said. “So that’s where a lot of this inspiration comes from for me to research this music and learn the pronunciations and learn about the history and the languages before singing. It’s really exciting. It’s a fun process.”
Caedmon’s Dream’s last Nanaimo show was in October for the launch of their previous single, a cover of an Old Norse poem about the creation and destruction of the world. Stadnyk said she and Kruszelnicki hope to give more local performances as COVID-19 restrictions loosen and this summer they head to Europe for a tour of France and the United Kingdom.
“The medieval period has a lot of imagery that is, like, fire and death and religion … I think it really lends itself to what we’re experiencing in the world right now,” Kruszelnicki said. “We’re in the middle of a plague, we have discourse between political sides that are just getting even more inflamed, so fire, death, all these things are really appropriate right now.”