August 26, 2023

With the debut single Wretched being released in 2021 and singles Only and Dawnbreaker arriving in 2022, Daedric has managed to amass quite a following with tens of thousands of YouTube views, more than 100k social media followers and becoming a mainstay on Spotify’s Discover Weekly. There has been a steady buzz feed of the name and material over what seems like a considerable amount of time but this has paid off with the debut album Mortal becoming an eagerly awaited release and one that in itself feels like it is chomping at the bit and desperate to escape into the world in its full capacity.

Daedric – formed in Dallas, Texas in 2020 – is less a band and more of a creative solo venture for videographer and AESOP vocalist Krystin Hope and while the name for the project is inspired by the video game The Elder Scrolls if there is any belief that this impressive debut album is some sword and sorcery power metal affair – think again.

In some respects, Mortal is a tricky album to pin down and is a record that is a product of metal’s constant evolution. Blending alternative, industrial, gothic and electronic elements; stir in some pop sensibility, Hope’s stunning vocal range (both beautiful and brutal) and with an impeccably tight production knitting it all together – Mortal makes for one hell of a listen.

Right out of the gate, opening title track Mortal deals the devil’s hand; an angelic voice that then drops into Hope’s gutteral vocals before the siren returns once again. As impressive as it is, the swing back and forth is almost dizzying but with the thunder of guitars, the punch of drums and subtle electronics, for an opening salvo, it is an utter beast of a superbly mixed cocktail. The ultra slick Titan has an alluring pop quality with a gorgeous chorus where the guitar comes to the fore pushing Hope’s voice and by verse two the electronics just soothe the song into the stratosphere; Wretched reverberates around the cranium, its pulsing electronica is jarring against Hope’s dreamy vocals. 

What makes Mortal as an album is how deceptive it is; pulling across the board and dipping into it variety of gene pools, songs that are full of earworm properties and then the musical backdrop will change and something else comes out of leftfield. Alchemy sees the reuturn of those gutteral vocals but it is like two parts of a personality facing off with each other, another terrific chorus, a whisper here and then slamming drums and racous guitar and backbeats. Nascent is otherworldy, an almost ballad like track which floats, its delicious stabs of electronica highlighting Hope’s voice, the passion and emotion are evident and as a middle of an album track it makes sense that what follows picks up the pace and Nirn fails to disappoint with its frothy tempo and a few liberally dotted accents of brutality. 

Mortal does not pretend to be anything that it is not and really, the world is Daedric’s oyster in terms of the scope and the possibilities for the future. The song writing is impressive – hardly what could be considered formulaic by any stretch, and Hope’s vocal talents are off the scale as to range and how the styles are metered out across the course of the album which does reach for the stars in being cinematic; the mixture of beats and breakdowns, stands shoulder to shoulder with the ethereal and gentle such as the haunting closing track Coldharbour. Clocking in at 34 minutes, Mortal does not hang around but it feels neither short nor unfinished, repeated plays are guaranteed to dig out the details and soak in the wonders of Hope’s voice.

Mortal is too new to think about what a second album could do but with talent such as this then there will be great expectations of Daedric and if the planets align, then Kristyn Hope stands to become a superstar of the modern metal generation.

Mortal is available now via FiXT