PESTILENTIAL SHADOWS - Depths CD
Genre: Black Metal
Coincidentally last week I was discussing online with a friend from Europe about what Black Metal releases came out this year which were great. I gave him my list of thirteen and that was that. Now this drops in my lap so now it's time to reconfigure my list. I first learned about PESTILENTIAL SHADOWS in 2009 when I was checking out another Austrailian band, NAZXUL. You see both bands share members, Balam, Desolate and Wraith are from NAZXUL plus on drums it's Basilysk. Back in 2009 NAZXUL release Iconoclast which in my not so humble opinion was one of that years best Black Metal releases. That same year PESTILENTIAL SHADOWS came out with In Memoriam Ill Omen which was pretty damm good as well. So here's their latest and I'm still impressed. Depths is a mixture of epic tremolo picked savagery and haunting atmosphere which simply draws you in till it's completion. It works that way because the harder edges drive you along with the melodic elements keeping things interesting. The opener "Lost Geists Of The Sunlight Sphere" held me in a trance but not a sleep induced one. Seriously I could be drinking coffee while sitting in my office chair (which had to have been designed by an ancestor of an inquisitor from the Spanish Inquisition) and still doze off to some atmospheric black metal. Not with PESTILENTIAL SHADOWS because not only are they welcoming you into this corridor of sound but you find yourself asking to be taken deeper. You want to find out what's around the next dark corner no matter what. "Tribulations Of Man" with it's moaned vocals are calling to you and at it's ending the haunted choir vocals answer.
Although PESTILENTIAL SHADOWS stays with the parameters of the Black Metal template (thank you very much) as far as musically the vocal exercises do not. Along with the previous mentioned examples another stands with "Choirs Beyond The Blackened Stars". The vocals are merely spoken words from an off worldly presence which switch to harsher tones all while the guitar and drum beats drive you further along. It's akin to being on a carnival ride where you get in the cart, the doors open and inside you go to another dimension. From the dark depths of despair from which you've just went though you get shocked by "Architects Of The Spear" with it's horrific anger and sadistic image inducing aura. "Shrine" is almost comforting in it's early ambient stage until giving way to the releases most grandiose cut. I mistakenly turned the volume up a few notches to bask in the songs ambiance only to be blasted out of my comfort zone as hostility ensued. "Poisoner" has a melodic rhythm quality that borders on a deranged dark psych vibe until the final volley which pounds everything to death. "Putrid Earth" is a more depressive even though it drenches you with intensity. Finally the title track is a sense shattering climax full of tempo changes, variation of structures, whispered and aggressive harsh vocal cries. This ends incredibly to the point of your mind being drained after close to an hour of music manipulating your imagination. The variety of techniques PESTILENTIAL SHADOWS uses pulls apart your psyche. I'm clueless as to this being a conceptual piece or not. All I can say is that Depths is a Black Metal release which must be listened to from start to finish to allow it's grip to take hold of your senses. Once that's been done reality fades away to reveal a realm of grays and blacks. Seriously I did not want this thing to end.