Devastating Light – I Have Already Failed You (self-released (digital), 09 January 2021 / Depressive Illusion Records (cassette/UKR), 09 January 2021 / Herrecords (CD/ARG), 25 February 2021 / Planet K Records (CD/ITA), 28 March 2021)
Olhava – Frozen Bloom (self-released (digital), 02 April 2021 / slowsnow records (cassette), 02 April 2021 / Avantgarde Music (CD+vinyl), 07 May 2021)
Hello again! Presented for your listening pleasure, I’ve got two more recordings to share with you today. One is the debut EP by the newly-created solo act of a musician from southern Finland; the other will be the fourth LP by a two-piece band who live just a few hundred km away across the Russian border (or even closer, if one were inclined to travel directly through the Gulf of Finland).
When I Have Already Failed You, roughly 28 minutes of music divided into three numbered parts, came out back in January, creator Devastating Light mentioned that it was inspired by and based on feelings of deep depression. This certainly seems to fit, upon listening to its slow, subdued, mixture of Neurosis-y post-doom with the anguished and distraught aesthetic of funeral-doom.
More than just dismal-sounding music, though — here you can actually feel the honest, raw emotion that went into the writing and performing. Midway through “Part Three,” for example, a few minutes of quiet, clean guitar chords that use a tone remarkably similar to the song “Hurt”; later as it crescendos again (in both volume and ferocity), repeated lyrics such as “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, it was all my fault” are clearly carrying tangible and substantial weight.
According to the artist, that is the result of being torn between all the feelings that accompany becoming a new parent, versus the genuine concern of bringing new life into a world that is, to be blunt, extremely fucked-up. Whether the process of writing and recording this music helped bring a resolution or catharsis to the performer, I couldn’t say (although it really gives a new perspective to the album title), but the struggle is very palpable to the listener, and entirely relatable to all of us on some level.
Available digitally since last month and with physical copies due out tomorrow (Friday the 6th), Olhava‘s Frozen Bloom has been aptly titled. All four of its tracks contain some element of beauty, although it may be buried deep beneath the surface, but also (and far more prominently) filled with a frigid coldness.
Two of those tracks (opener “The Queen of Fields” and “Frozen Bloom I”) consist largely of straightforward atmospheric black metal, expansive and frosted over with an arctic chill — and vocals that resemble nothing more than wildly howling wind in the background.
The other two (“Adrift” and closer “Frozen Bloom II”) primarily sound cleaner, more melodic, more ambient. The latter, in particular, is mostly built upon layers of synth chords, very pleasant and calming, although it very gradually adds disharmonious (and eventually even moderately distressing-sounding) noises into the mix, before eventually fading away into nothingness.
Whether the overall package should be referred to as ambient/atmospheric black metal, blackgaze, or whatever descriptor you wish to use, this album should stand as an excellent representative of the style.
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