Thursday, January 13, 2011

Drowning the Light - The Blood of the Ancients (2009)

One of four Drowning the Light full-lengths released in 2009, it might be an overestimation to expect much of value from The Blood of the Ancients; and unfortunately this suspicion holds true through the bulk of its content. The lineup here includes the central figure Azgorh, his regular contributor Blackheart, and two other members known as simply 'S' and Tortured Soul. Together they rifle through the standard fare, raw and sorrow-choked black metal which suffers largely through the production, though the actual writing is not up to par with several other works from the Australians. I take no issue with the cold and unassuming intent here, but the delivery feels slightly subpar.

Once you get beyond the lavish, gleaming guitar into "So Far From Home", you're thrust into a number of tracks which become nearly indistinguishable from one another. The driving thunder of "Night of Neverending Turmoil", for example, might have a different exact notation than "Lunar Reflection in Blood (Vampires of the old)", but the songs feel like one drawn out spectacle through which the drums cut and crash too loudly, and the guitars get lost in themselves, aside from those passages where the percussion drops and you're given a suicidal glint of simplicity as notes are allowed to breathe out from their chords. A few tracks try different motifs, like the wonderful deep male vocals in "Residing in a Kingdom Now Lost" or the writhing, memorable hook that opens "Servant of an Unholy Plague", but these are the exceptions rather than the rule.

The mix of the album doesn't do it much of a service, though the glaze of raw is not uncommon on such a work, but here it feels more annoying than cloying, and the potential for a headache is enormous. Granted, black metal is supposed to hurt, it's supposed to reach into your eardrums and drag the living spirit out of you and then bite it in the neck, but many albums seem to let the writing do the killing, and use a minimal studio sound the listener can live with. The Blood of the Ancients would hardly be a success with better engineering, but it does grow unnerving. That aside, it's pretty much run of the mill, underground necrotic black metal with a few moments of shine where the band sways from the beaten path. The lyrics are decent, casting a negative, emotional pallor on the proceedings, and the vocals create an appropriate hostility, but there are few if any distinguishing characteristics to stand forth from hundreds of similar records, and these copious Australians are capable of better.

Verdict: Indifference [6/10]
(the hunger for the end)

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