Darkness is my favorite form of heavy. The eerie calm this album invokes is more powerful than if it had been slathered in squealing distortion and coated in anguished growls. I have said it before, and after spending the bulk of my days sorting through albums full of gnashing fangs cranked up to ten, it’s easier to use gain and volume to create something to attack your ear drums – but the artists capable of painting a sonic portrait of honest emotion that finds its shadows resonating inside you is rare. This is what his band from Glasgow, Scotland, has accomplished with their second full length that is about to be turned loose upon the world. This album feels post-apocalyptic in the same manner as Cormac McCarthy’s “the Road,” as it provides a somber glimpse into a lonely nothingness. The album opens with a river of feedback that hypnotically washes the listener away to the darker places of their mind. This frequency continues to flow on into the title track, though a doom-tinged energy and ghostly vocals echoing up from the lower layers of their cave are added. This song and much of the album as a whole carries a more oppressive heaviness entrenched in their overall sounds than their previous album did. On “Shiver,” the vocals begin to creep out of the fog. There is an despondent haze over this music that translates into a depressive lethargy. This finds them continuing to take you deeper into the starkness of the hollow dirges until the begin to manifest as more of a drone. The layers of vocal overdubs drip from the haze into to harmonize give the melodies more depth.
The angular guitar of “Teeth” casts long shadows behind the vocals. When the band picks up the pace for “Antlers,” it still carries the weight of a bleak sluggishness. This manifests a similar mood to doom without being metal. These songs find themselves dragging you toward a dark hole as deep as many doom bands go without the density of distortion. By metal standards, they typically use much cleaner tones. The subtle distortion that does emboss the guitar is very organic. The excellent production and mix that places all the instruments perfectly around one another certainly makes this possible. This is displayed on “Where,” which is more of a requiem than a ballad. Here the piano chords laying the ground work are almost buried in the mix to serve the song and the gray clouds of feedback the needed space to float over. The vocals are more formless, taking on more of a chant than the traditional approach to melodies. The vocals shift into a more haunting cadence before the song ebbs back down into a more minimalist atmosphere. This will appeal to fans of both Chelsea Wolfe and Low without coming across as being directly influenced by either. Going into the winter, I often find myself needing a soundtrack with this reflective touch. If you are looking for something heavy, but not encumbered by monolithic mountains of overdrive, this is the album for you.