Written by: Lord Hsrah
You ever seen Spike or Tom from Tom and Jerry? Seen how they react when their ever-so-cunning and sharp eyes spot a thick chunk of steak, and how their tongues just hang out as their mouth waters at the thought of devouring it? Yeah, that's always me when someone mentions atmospheric black metal! I'm a big fan of the emotions this particular sub-genre invokes, the scenes it creates in my head, the visions it shows me thereafter, and just the overall things I feel when listening to an ABM album - it's one of my favorite things, especially in the rainy season, which is right now where I live. If you ask me, The Lightbringers' From The Void To Existence was a good one to spend some time with as I watched the waters trickle down the window panes of my room. Let's discuss.
Canadian ABM quartet The Lightbringer bring forth their third offering in the form of an EP, as they complete a decade of existence this year (congrats to them), as a follow up to their second full-length Heptanity which was released back in 2017. From The Void To Existence takes a nice turn in the songwriting process viz. in the decision to write a concept record. As with a lot of ABM bands and albums where topics of focus for songwriting are often obscure domains ranging from something beautiful and simple as nature all the way to the very thought of existence, this EP too, treads into one of such realms to talk, in concept, about cosmogony, or the study of the origin of the cosmos.
Music wise, composer, lyricist and multi-instrumentalist Auraeon has got all the standard stuff that makes me lust for atmospheric music. Layers of instrumentation, great presence of powerful keys that add to the ambiance, that lo-fi guitar tone, well defined drums--he's got it all. With the 'Abyssal Voice' provided by Sol-Orcus, coupled with the 'Celestial Voice' of Celestheia, bassist and producer Archan brings all these elements together to create some (admittedly) very oddly constructed two-minute tracks. They are composed well and take you through multiple rhythm changes, style alterations and different paths of song writing. Celestheia's operatic vocals add a nice depth to the songs while Sol-Orcus's gnarly screeches bring that black metal element to the vocal front.
If you've read my previous reviews, you know I love all things melodic, symphonic, atmospheric and ambient, and so naturally this EP was right up my alley. But from an objective point of view, I would argue that it's remarkably quite melodic, like how most modern ABM albums have been, almost deriving from symphonic metal. Bands like Elderwind, Eldamar, and Nord Frost (to name a few) have all churned out such albums where the black metal element(s) comes not from the composition but from the instrumentation (that bleh guitar tone and the screeched/shouted vox) or the production (lo-fi production). And even in most other cases, the production is also quite modern and polished. From The Void... doesn't have that modern production, but it is too melodic, in comparison to older ABM bands like, say, Summoning, where the black metal elements were not only present in the instrumentation and the production, but also in the composition. I think I can attribute this to Auraeon's influences and ideas, who also played in the power metal band Tales of Destiny. And you could argue that this record was well a fusion of power metal and ambient black metal elements.
In an attempt to really bring on that 'concept' album vibe where the songs are structured to basically be one big, mammoth, singular composition, every song here oddly fades out, leaving behind a cliff hanger, followed by the next one that fades in on the cliff hanger and carries it on from there. Now I'm not sure if this was intentional, but this certainly seems like a mixing mistake--that is, if it actually is one. Another thing that really did not sit well with me, particularly, was the abysmal song length. I like to enjoy my music for a good lengthy amount of time, especially ABM. But this EP seemed like a melodic Napalm Death album that actually made some sense. And to be honest, at first I thought these oddly cut songs and the short song lengths were basically concise versions of the full songs that were made available just for the promo kits. In actuality though, they are just the way they are.
In the album's defence, however, the promo kit did explicitly mention "this dark epic work that is delivered through a harmonic and progressive atmosphere, is well-suited for fans of fantasy and melodic black metal." And to be frank, it's not half as bad; I like all the things that the above line from the promo kit mentioned, so personally speaking, I liked this record. I mean, I didn't really feel much listening to it and before I realised it, I had already made through a couple of rounds of it. The song length and the oddly cut cliff hangers are off-putting but I can get behind those, but objectively speaking, this EP perhaps won't be spoken of too overly fondly amongst black metal factions of our metal community.
All in all, From The Void To Existence is an okay album. I hate to be too critical of things, especially those that I like, but from a band that's been around for a decade, and with such experienced musicians amongst the crew, I think I wanted a bit more from them. Still, I would highly encourage you to give it a go and decide for yourself how well you like this EP.
The Lightbringer - From The Void To Existence was independently released July 17th, 2020
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry!