I recently discovered Peter Gundry, a talented composer who’s music is completely unlike others. His work is mainly instrumental with limited vocals, mixing classical with fantasy and new age. He has many albums, some darker than others, all containing an aura of mystifying enchantment.
“The Shadow’s Bride” sends you through a portal into an entirely different universe, which is the most powerful thing that music can do. This is an old world that is full of darkness.
Without any words, this album manages to tell a very specific story. It uses choir and melody to guide you through the motions. The beauty of music without lyrics is that it has the ability to express feelings so deep that they cannot be put into words. It adds a sense of limitlessness.
The story begins with “Return of the Dark Lord,” immediately invoking fear and terror. The male choir is intimidating, introducing us to the Dark Lord who has awakened from a long slumber. Who knows what chaos he will bring back to the world after an infinite period of silence. Yet as the track progresses, piano transforms horror into innocence and curiosity — we welcome the Dark Lord with naive hope.
“As Shadows Fall” makes me think about illusions falling and letting go of everything we know. The melody progresses into anticipation of what is to come. The unknown is terrifying.
“I Bleed for You” reflects how much passion the Dark Lord has for his bride. The drums are the sound of his heartbeat getting faster and heavier. He is willing to make sacrifices and suffer through the pain in order to reach his lover.
The bride is first introduced as “The Witch.” She is alone in the forest, surrounded by many spirits that she cannot see. She is pure and virtuous but she feels a yearning that grows stronger with the passing of time. She is traveling through darkness with her lantern and searching for more.
“The Coven” is the community of all the witches who gather together. The witch has found the company of others similar to herself. Together they are stronger, but also weaker. They bring a sense of comfort, yet also a sense of judgment and fear of not fitting in. By the end of the track, she has found herself alone again, straying away from the crowd.
“The Last Dance” is an accordion-based tune. Everyone is gathered together at a formal party with suits and puffy dresses. The men and women are dancing together and everyone is searching for love. This is where the Dark Lord and the witch first meet as they share a dance. It is their last dance as separate beings, as their egos die and their soul becomes one.
“I Meet My Shadow” is beautiful and chilling. This is the realization of love between the Dark Lord and the witch. This is when they fully connect on a spiritual level. Through each other, they can see their shadow selves, all the aspects of themselves that is kept hidden from the world. They realize how much they need each other, how deep their bond is, and how much is at stake.
Next comes the incredibly powerful and jarring track, “The Last of Their Kind.” It starts out quiet, peaceful, and serene. Happily in love, it seems everything has fallen into place. Until suddenly, their world comes crashing down. Outside forces threaten to tare them apart. Their romance is so rare that everyone wants to steal it. They must hold onto each other as tight as they possibly can. For a moment, they find tranquility… until once again they are back on the run. They have to run as fast as they can! They find another place to hide, but know that they won’t be safe for long.
“The Shadow’s Bride” is soft and sweet yet melancholy. This is when the witch becomes the Dark Lord’s bride and they marry. They mourn for their past, their previous lives, their prior selves. They take an oath. They hold each other delicately while bursting with passion deep inside.
Most haunting of all is “Lucifer’s Hymn.” The devil shows up to their wedding to cast bad luck upon them.
“The Dream Snatcher” reveals the danger of blind hope. The Dark Lord and his bride begin a life together in a cottage residing deep in the forest. As the Dark Lord withdraws from the world and insists on staying in, his bride ventures out and makes friends with the fairies and other spirits who’ve revealed themselves. She tells them about her love for the Dark Lord, and gushes about plans for their future. Little does she know, these woodland creatures cannot be trusted, and her marriage is falling apart.
The song title “Silva Maleficus” is Latin for “evil forest.” After the fairies and other mythical spirits have earned the bride’s trust, they attempt to turn her against the Dark Lord, convincing her that he is abusive and incapable of love. The Dark Lord’s bride is upset to see him casting spells against these woodland spirits who she now calls her friends. She questions how much he actually cares for her.
“True Power Within” is the fight against mind games. The Dark Lord and his bride have lost trust for one another and are unsure of what’s real and what’s not. Too many illusions warp their reality. Life has become a circus.
Through all the confusion, the Dark Lord and his bride struggle to keep their love alive. They must resort to “Invocation,” the calling of benevolent supernatural forces to restore their love. The lovers use magic, charms, and spells, to defeat the evilness that has penetrated their romance. They successfully summon angels who come to their rescue.
“The Craft” is a wonderful way to wrap up the record. The Dark Lord and his bride face the daunting truth that their romance will be under attack for eternity. However, through witchcraft and supernatural support, their love is powerful enough to withstand any storm.
“The Shadow’s Bride” perfectly expresses feelings that cannot be captured into words. I believe the message of this record is that love is incredibly powerful, and we don’t always think about how much darkness romance can bring. There is so much at stake, so many factors that threaten your bond, so many forces beyond your control — and that is the beauty of it all.