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 The album has a very outdated soundscape, as it's almost wholly performed on a regular synth, but these sounds also make the album sound very honest and they deliver their atmospheres well.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.