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Drowning the Light is a prime example of a band whose discography sheer volume can easily discourage those who have not been following them from the beginning, the “uninitiated” one could say. I find myself among the ranks of this latter group, having been acquainted with the Australian sometime during 2010, 7 years after the band’s formation. 7 years during which Drowning the Light had already released 10 full-length albums, and an even larger number of split/demo/ep releases. I was awed by this massive production, and kept postponing my immersion to their works.
Come 2015, the band released their 13th full length album, “From the Abyss”, four years after their previous one, a never preceded for the Australians interval (although they kept spawning some ep’s and compilations). The album was highly recommended to me, and so I decided to give it a chance, hoping that it would be the point of entrance to the band’s corpus. Thankfully I was not disappointed; on the contrary, I found the album extremely rewarding, even in its visual domain (the cover art is amazing).
“From the Abyss” is an album first and foremost atmospheric, in a dark, dusty and sanguine way. Imagine Black Funeral’s “Empire of Blood” fornicating with Emperor’s early works. That is the image invoked by the album’s intro and its sophomore track, “Drink the Blood of the Sun(Varcolaci Awakens)”. From there on, this style permeates half of the album, alternating in equal parts with a more melodic approach, clearly Australian in style, of lengthy and drifting riffage. Either way, the guitar sound is always flowing, thin in volume, decorated with a few keyboards here and there, the album’s sound never lacking in pure volume. I liked the fact that the Australians are not avert to audible bass guitar, which is quite distinguishable throughout the album. The vocals are quite typical for the most part, raspy howl-like, but the moments in which they move towards a clean, hymn-like crescendo are beautiful. The song structure is tumultuous, not because of a great complexity, but mainly due to an injection of chaos in the narrative, evoking images of labyrinthine complexes. The song-writing qualities of the band is shining in most of the tracks, giving birth to memorable moments, some of them extremely passionate and aggressive. A great aid to the listener’s immersion is the written word; one has to love the song titles, steeped in the darkness of the past, as well as the typical-but-excellent lyrics.
A drawback of the album is its duration, which seems a bit drawn out; 10 or 15 minutes less would be ideal. A couple of songs towards the end tend to get loquacious without much reason. But despite that, Drowning the Light managed to grasp my attention with this album, transforming their previous discography in a welcoming terrain, waiting to be explored. Recommended indeed, for all who crave for dark, atmospheric black metal, the kind of which resounds deeply with the spirit of the necrotic.