Saturday, March 6, 2010
DROWNING THE LIGHT "THE BLOOD OF THE ANCIENTS" (Werewolf)
One of several 2009 full-length efforts from DTL, this one recorded for Werewolf Records, the label owned by Werwolf of Satanic Warmaster fame. Werewolf Records occupies a very specific aesthetic space in underground black metal and perhaps that accounts for the radically different approach that DTL take on this record-here all the personal/depressive elements that make DTL so affecting are stripped away, leaving a lean 41 minutes of ancient sounding black metal so indebted to the Black Legions, Vlad Tepes in particular, that this may as well be considered a tribute album. From the sigil-laden monochromatic iconography gracing the cover to the songs themselves ("Night of Neverending Turmoil," "Lunar Reflection in Blood," "Servant of an Unholy Plague," etc.), from the band photos to the actual layout itself, everything here screams French Underground circa 1992. Not that it's a bad thing-the Black Legions spewed forth some of the most virulent, uncompromising and creative black metal to ever grace the genre-but it would have been nice to hear some of DTL's actual identity on a record as opposed to a tedious, if very skillful, homage to a specific time and place. As for the music itself, it's fine enough black metal. Straightforward, vaguely melodic and romantic but more raw and blunt than anything else, with an appropriately distant recording tone that manages to be one of DTL's best sounding despite its obvious intentional obscurity. The true loss is the vocal delivery-as i've stated before Azgorh's vox are the most distinct part of DTL's sound, a unique and near peerless instrument all their own and it's sad to hear them so contained on this album. Every song is vomited forth in the same brusque shout, no effects, no variance, just a lightly room-reverbed choke. Again, the approach and sound are completely Vlad Tepes, and done well in that manner-just sad to hear that individuality buried under aesthetic. While not an unworthy or unenjoyable record, "The Blood of the Ancients" doesn't sit on par with this project's best work-just compare it to another 2009 effort (though released in 2010), the epic and masterful "An Alignment of Dead Stars." What made that album so successful was precisely what renders this album so one-dimensional: variety. "An Alignment..." showcased every aspect of DTL's sound, from short anthemic punkers to the frigid wintry black metal on display here to the more sorrowful, yearning moments found on "A World Long Dead"; everything this band does was there and done well and despite its epochal length the material never grew wearying or unengaging. On "The Blood of the Ancients" it does both, quickly. Again, i think some judicious editing would have really helped here-this record could have been sliced apart and yielded some decent seven-inches or splits. But taken as a whole it becomes background, even to the Black Legions' most fervent worshipers. Not bad for what it is, but far from essential.