By Cassandra on Sep 22, 2010
Dance Of The Twilight Stars

Marc Azrael Hoyland, previously of Black Metal bands Ethereal Forest and Heathen Deity, and then of Goth rock bands 13 Candles and The Realm has now branched out alone going under the name of Hoyland.

‘Dance Of The Twilight Stars’, released on Quartier23 in January this year can be described as Dark Ambient.  Hoyland’s influences are listed as Darkness, Spiritualness, Paganism, Black Metal and Burzum amongst others and it is the latter influence most people will pick up on. His music bears a stark resemblance to the dark ambient of Burzum throughout Varg’s career, however one would presume that indulging in Hoyland may be done so without the shadow of Burzum’s ubiquitous controversy and far right-wing political stance. Having said that, the music remains true to type and is satisfyingly evocative: if this were an alcoholic beverage, it would of course be mead.

Being devoid of vocals is actually quite pleasing as the album is a rather nice dark soundscape to lose yourself in and great for chilling and relaxing to. I was wondering where this sort of experimental album would fit into my life, well, in lots pf places. I gave it one play and then without fully realising it I’d replayed it about 6 times in a row and in that time I’d prepared dinner, sat with a glass of wine, ate dinner, tidied up and had a soak in the bath. So that’s where it fits in – as the background to your daily tasks when you need to slow your day down.

The title track ‘Dance Of The Twilight Stars’ has a slightly Elizabethan feel to it that makes one imagine ghostly dancers in farthingales and ruff collars dancing to it and I love it. All of the tracks are fairly evocative of landscapes whether your mind strays to fjord, a forest or the moon with song titles such as A New Dawn, Paganland, Tears Of A Time Forgotten, The Ruins Of An Ancient Kingdom, Winter’s Labyrinth, From The Mountains She Came and The Spell Of A Wintermoon adding to the whole feel of the thing.

There are no big bangs or surprises to make you jump out of your skin and because of that this album in its stress busting glory, will be featuring regularly on my CD player.

By M. 2010
Dance Of The Twilight Stars

Hoyland is a solo-project of Marc Azrael Hoyland, who is or has been active in the black metal bands Ethereal Forest and Heathen Deity, along with the goth-rock groups 13 Candles and The Realm. This album was made in the winter of 2006, but for some reason its release got delayed all the way until 2010.

The album presents an hour’s worth of melancholic, pagan, mystical and partly medieval synth ambient. Nothing more, and nothing less. The album has a very outdated soundscape, as it’s almost wholly performed on a regular synth, but these sounds also make the album sound very honest and they deliver their atmospheres well. There’s no special gimmicks on the whole album; a couple of synth-patterns or melodies execute bare but beautiful and highly atmospheric pieces, using sounds that you’ve most likely heard before. The tracks are mid-to slow-pace ones, with only the last song having some programmed percussions to boost things up, but their varying moods keep things interesting and set the songs easily apart from each other.

The album doesn’t sound groundbreaking at all, but its very honest and dedicated sound and feel make it worth your attention nonetheless. The songs paint their forgotten landscapes through very familiar sounds, as stated before, but they’re used so well that even their minimalism and repetition doesn’t become a problem; the sounds suit the well-crafted compositions. The songs do deliver their wistful atmospheres, and their overall calm but epic feel sounds just like it should: reminiscence of times long gone past. If you enjoy older Mortiis and Burzum’s ambient works, you’re in for a treat.

Still, you can’t deny that the album has some flaws. As one can guess, it doesn’t really provide any major variation, and an hour’s worth of music this bare can become difficult to focus on – especially in the calmer parts. You need to be in a certain mood to enjoy this album. It must also be mentioned that the song six doesn’t seem to fit in at all; it’s based on a very organic-sounding piano, which sets it apart from the purely synth-based songs on the album and breaks the album’s flow and structure. It’s a beautiful song, but it has a wrong placing.

Even though it might sound so at first, this album isn’t just an usual ambient work: if you can take a soundscape of this kind, you might find this album highly enjoyable as it presents a whole nine beautiful and dedicated compositions that also carry a great amount of emotion in them. The artist has found the right way and the right sounds to execute all the mysticism, sad emotions, coldness and even the last track’s cheerful atmosphere within a single album with it all coming together in creating a working whole. I hope that the artist will continue creating music, as he got me convinced of his talent despite the high doubts I had at first.


by Danny on March 23, 2012
Dreams With a Dream E.P.

So this is a different way I’m doing a review. I’m listening and commenting as I go. This E.P. starts off with a track called “Celestial”. Clocks in just under 4 minutes, and is a promising instermental intro that is filled with long, deep (and clean/clear production) layered with some female Gregorian chants that is nothing short of a Tolkien ecstasy; all ambient and ethereal.

Staring on the longer “Journeyman”, a repetitive pattern scales back and forth across a few octaves melodically eases in the nocturnalscape. A vivid image of gliding through the cosmos shines beyond hope, like nebular facades surrounded by rays of darkness. A violin is heard midway through the intro, and loops back to the “octavated” lullaby. Bringing in the long stretch, another lute (a cello, perhaps?) adds something almost cliché, however deeper emotion. This track seriously glistens the beauty of the night and of darkness as a whole. Through the darkness, it illuminates the bullshit shadows of the light.

A more haunting intro transcends in the first few seconds of the title track, suggestive that something extraterrestrial is lingering in the dark hopes of man. Something that is desired, yet feared; similar to the meaning of these velvety dreams that we dream. Scarcely exotic is the somber tune, culminating the idea that possibly dreams are no more than an outer body, even an outer dimensional, experience. This bravado interpretation through this babbled audio language is only my deepest conclusions, but surely considering the subject matter, muse to author are probably on probable terms.

A deathly organ fills the aura with dank audacity mid song, that is followed closely to the end with evermore chants and slow bass plucks until the end. After only a split moment to breath, its on to the next track “Season of the Fall” beckons an awakening in heathen fodder. Almost a melancholy experience to leave this realm of enjoyment, but cannot ignore the shattering beauty of sunrays through thicken woods to truly arouse the stark realities of a dreadful world; like the wrath and lust of a woman, joy and sorrow of labors, treasures and debts of comradery.

I want to say, or I should hope, the ending track “Cthulhu Rising”, is a sense that when we face the Reaper and pay the Piper, it will be a never-ending dream. A queue of dread and frightfulness is hinted in the melody, almost a juxtaposition of the previous song (A fear of dying as opposed to a fright to awaken). However, I’m doubtful that is the intent of this track. Though the format is similar to other parts of this album, and blends well with the others…a part of this actually seems to resonate to a different idea almost all together, perhaps a concept to be dealt with a future release. Regardless, the damnation of the intro is breath taking to say the least, as it resembled those tones of what entering the first few realms of hell may sound like.
Overall, this album starts out in a mode where everything is fantastical and mythical, and turns to the truths of mankind in an equal amazement; however ends up in sheer gloom as the realization the nothing is forever. A startling album, that literally only took less that an hour to venture through, that lead through some emotions I though only possible through archaic orchestration. A fine diamond hidden in a heap of coal! This is a journey I wish to visit again, hopefully with my head rested on a well fluffed pillow with a cool breeze to wash me away in lucidity!

Febuary 10th 2012
Dreams Within a Dream E.P.

Hoyland is supreme desolated,beautiful dark ambient project from Marc Azrael Hoyland, a dedicated musician and artist, creating though this project another facet of his personality, due he is also playing in different Black Metal projects such as Heathen Deity, Ethereal Forest and Wither. This time he present us his Ep called “”Dreams Within A Dream”, though 5 beautiful and enlightment compositions.

The journey begins with “Celestial”, a track focusing in dark ambient passages covered by such incredible keyboard elements, which seems to float from another level of spiritual exitence. Next,its “Journeyman”, glorious enchantments, with inspirational and subtle thin sounds crawling slowly to create one of the most interesting pieces here. The point with the ep is the way as each composition touch your soul in a sublime way due trascendental way in which keyboards emerges giving a dreamy spaces between the whole ep in general.
The title track offer us a more darker side but still having such in deep melodies surrounding the whole track. “Season Of The Fall” is just amazing, pure melancholic tunes dressed with magickal enviroments due the piano elements here. Closing the ep is “Cthulhu Rising”, a neoclassical piece with diverse elements and a proper sombre atmosphere veiled behind each one of the passages expressed here. A very interesting purpose is what Marc Azrael Hoyland offers us here. Just Be prepare to enter the ethereal world created through “Dreams Within A Dream”.

by Marko Miranovic on March 24th 2012
Upon the Mountain Vastlands

Hoyland is a neo-classic, dark and ambient musical project that comes from Norway, a brainchild of Marc Hoyland who is already know with his other music activities. But, yet this is something very diffrent of what he has done before with his other bands. And, mark my words, this is the best thing that he has done thus far!
One could easily noticed that there are some obvious links which stands between Hoyland and Mortiiis. Well, of course, when I say Mortiis here I actually mean on his earlier works which were ambient oriented. I could go even further and say that Hoyland is even closer to Mortiis side-project Fata Morgana…

”Upon the Mountain Vastlands” is the second issue coming from Marc Hoyland. CD contains 9 tracks which are well-composed and written in ambient manner. We’re facing here less bombastic music; this sort of music is written more for the relaxing moments and mark my words it perfectly suits when a person what a calmer moment or two.
As a matter of fact there’s something really magical and mysterious inside the music of Hoyland. Even the atmosphere is not so dark or grim, but, yet the opus is pulsing with enchanted melodies.

Of course, all the music is composed for keyboards and recorded only with keyboards so one should know what to expect. But, in fact, the songs are not so long expect one track which is more them 10 minutes long.

In fact I could even dare to say that we have a ”a new bright star” in the sky of ambient music and I think that lovers of ”good-old” Mortiis’ works should be completely delighted with this one-man-band. Hoyland has a great potential to offer and I am really looking forward to enjoy (and relax) in his debut album.It will be even greater if this particular release ”Upon the Mountain Vastlands” could be published on vinyl version.


by James on May 2nd 2012
The Trinity of Painted Symphonies

The Trinity of Painted Symphonies is an experimental/neo-classical/dark ambient split album featuring Tamerlan, Melankolia and Hoyland. All three of the artists on their own are extremely talented and to have all three together on this split is a real treat. The Trinity of Painted Symphonies showcases the individual talents of each of these artists as well as the combined creativity of all three. Until recently I never paid much attention to ambient, neo-classical style music but over the last while these are three of the artists which have really opened my eyes to a whole new world. The Trinity of Painted Symphonies was released by Naturmacht Productions on April 30, 2012.

The opening track is a blend of all three artists. It is a haunting track full of melancholic beauty and sadness and blends the three artists together in one seamless song. It is extremely captivating and a fitting way to start the album. The tone of the acoustic guitars gives off many conflicting feelings of sorrow and darkness while at the same time a strange sense of beauty and light. Combined with it’s simply, repetitive melody and the dark soundscapes that are mired in the background it makes for a gripping song that is brimming with feeling and emotion.

The second track “The Garden of Two Hearts” continues on the dark beauty with the chilling melodies of a classical guitar over top subtle dark ambiance. The combination is really good with the guitar taking prominence and dominating the sound. The subtle ambiance provides a little bit of depth to the sound but it’s all about the guitars. Much the same can be said about all of the tracks from Tamerlan including the third song “Bloom”. As with all of the tracks on the split the song titles are very befitting of the music. In the case of Tamerlan the guitars act as the vocals and tell the story of the song as it progresses. “Bloom” features some nice percussion work which shines through unexpectedly. It comes in the form of hand drumming and it changes the mood of the music as the song reaches it’s climax. Some cymbal work takes the song home as it slowly comes to an end. The last Tamerlan song to appear on the split, which happens to be the fourth track is called “Khepri – The Sketch” and it features Akoustik Timbre Frekuency. Akoustik Timbre Frekuency adds some dark atmosphere to the mix. This is by far the darkest of the three songs contributed by Tamerlan. It is eerie with a simply, repetitive guitar melody leading the way. There is a thick wall of droning darkness that hovers in the background and subtle use of chimes and bells add interest and a twist to the sound.

The fifth track “Let There Be Darkness Pt.1″ is the first track from Melankolia. Tamerlan did a great job of setting the mood for the rest of this split and Melankolia doesn’t miss a beat with this truly beautiful track. Gone are the classical guitars of Tamerlan but in their place a sorrowful sounding piano/keyboard takes over. They carry no less of an impact and the sweet sorrow they hold is full of tragedy and longing. The song features some vocal work in the form of a low raspy voice but it’s the piano melody played in harmony with the atmosphere of the keyboards that demands most of the attention.

The sixth track “Leaving Behind the Past” sees the departure of the piano lead melody which is now replaced by soft, ambient soundscapes. Choir like vocal effect is used to create a rather ominous feeling. The song is one of the slower paced songs on the album but it is by no means boring. This is a good “thinking track” as the mind wanders through a dark daydream. That’s really the trick here. Creating this style of music can be hit or miss but Melankolia has such a knack for keeping the music interesting and the listener involved.

The seventh track “Time Requim” begins with a sample of falling rain which leads into a nice piano melody which in turn gives way to some very cool sounding melodies which I’m having trouble finding words to describe. Each melody has a slightly different sound but the harmonies they create are quite nice. The last track from Melankolia combines the style of the first two tracks. “Solitude under a Forlorn Sky” is slow paced and dreamy like “Leaving Behind the Past” but it adds the soft piano melody of “Let There Be Darkness Pt.1″. It is a very sorrowful track which will rip every ounce of happiness from the listener. However in all of this darkness there is beauty. In solitude there is contentment.

Until this review I had not hear much from Hoyland. I’d heard others speak highly of his music (namely Tamerlan and Melankolia) but I had not the opportunity to listen to it myself. Well let’s just say that Hoyland did not disappoint me.

Upon hearing the eighth track “The Raven” I realized how each of these artists are similar yet so different. Hoyland brings a unique style to the split. “The Raven” is a dark track but it’s a different feeling of darkness I get than from Tamerlan and Melankolia. The piano melodies carry a certain classical styling to them which immediately gets my mind thinking of Edgar Allan Poe and that neo-classical time period. I guess with a song called “The Raven” it is to be expected.

The second offering from Hoyland comes in the form of the ninth track “All Life Ends”. Hoyland switches gears away from the classical piano melodies to a more synthetic, ambient sound. “All Life Ends’ is still dark but in a more sorrowful kind of a way – as the title might suggest. After the midway point acoustic guitar sounds play in a sort of interlude where the song begins to build to it’s climax. Just as the song seems like it will take off it’s over before you know it.

“Citadel of Stars” is my favourite Hoyland track on the split. It has a doom metal like feel to it but without guitars and drums of course. It has a sweet sorrow to it that generates mixed emotions in me. The main focus here is the cello melody which is likely what gives it that doom metal vibe.

The last track on the album is “Elessar” which is another solid song full of epic arrangements. It once again has a fantasy or medieval type of sound with some basic rhythmic drumming to bring the song into full force.

Overall this split was an impressive display of three talented artists, each with their own take on dark ambient/neo-classical music. Right from the start the music is grand and dramatic setting the stage for the music to come. Every song has something of it’s own to offer as does each of the artists who have contributed to the split. I would recommend that fans of dark ambient or neo-classical music not only check out this release but go a step further and check out each of theses artists individually. If you are someone new to dark ambient music then The Trinity of Painted Symphonies is an excellent introduction to the style and will leave you wanting more.


by Sage on August 19th 2012
Upon the Mountain Vastlands

Hoyland is the solo alias of Marc Hoyland whom is a Norwegian artist that has become fairly well-known throughout the dark ambient world as of late — this despite having a low amount of output since the project found its debut release through the now-defunct German label Quartier23. Along with a few other Quartier23 artists, Hoyland is part of a close-knit collective of musicians that branches out to include the likes of Melankolia and Immundus, a fact that will often see his name mentioned in paralleled conversations to these gentlemen and vice versa. Prior to this project where his work began in 2006 but wasn’t realized until 2010, Hoyland has also been a part of the UK-based black metal project Ethereal Forest whom to this day, nearly a decade after their founding, still have only one demo unleashed upon the world to their name. His work with another UK black metal project — Heathen Deity — was a bit more fruitful though they too have long been on hold and haven’t seen label support in their modest career. He was also part of the Norwegian duo Wither, whom had a demo released in 2006. It was Hoyland’s work in the Cacophonous Records-based goth rock project 13 Candles that is perhaps the most celebrated of his previous works.

Of course, all of this information constructs the foundation of a by-gone era for Hoyland, whom now looks, unwavering, to his future in strongly neoclassically textured dark ambient. Hoyland’s style is unique in that it is both crystalline in sound, mirroring the arctic atmosphere of a number of lesser-known Canadian projects such as Ancient Tundra and the complex keyboard compositions of Ceremonial Castings, as well as holding onto a subtle hint of medieval influences. These medieval influences are what make the project special, but they also make it difficult to call Hoyland dark ambient as there isn’t anything overtly tenebrous about the music itself. The compositions are certainly cinematic with a vast open production that is epic if only in the imagery that it creates — visions of desolate environments from endless white glacial plateaus to snowy grey mountain terrain populate the album track by track with the only exception being “The Summer Glades of Yore” which, like the title implies, represents a rather warm and relaxed mood amongst medieval-era wildlife.

In truth, perhaps the project that Hoyland reminds me the most of is the unequaled quality of Uruk-hai whose music has, for the past number of years at least, been expertly crafted through various subtleties that combine to create something both intense and fragile in his less bombastic works. Hoyland’s music is similar to this style though it is less drone-based and instead is created on the back of a strong melodic performance with occasional stock field recordings. That said, the music of “Upon the Mountain Vastlands” should perhaps be approached as a neoclassic effort that is geared towards a fantasy-style soundtrack that would fit right in alongside of artists like Aardia and Za Frûmi on Waerloga Records. The album isn’t without its flaws which mostly lie in a lack of complexity in some tracks which leaves them sounding too thin, as well as an occasional questionable instrumental sound from what could simply amount to an obsolete keyboard software engine. Regardless, he represents one of the first new artists of the past few years to be trying to do something both unique and fulfilling with the fantasy genre and represents one of the few sources of light for a dying breed in that respect.