|My Silent Wake / The Drowning - Black Lights & Silent Roads [split]
27 April 2010
My Silent Wake
01. I Am (Eternity) [Attrition cover]
02. Bleak Endless Winter
03. Devoid Of Light [The Drowning cover]
05. The Doomsday Feire
06. Arc Light
07. Silent Epiphany
08. A Photograph [My Silent Wake cover]
I feel as though I have experienced my own form of rebirth after consciously letting the My Silent Wake and The Drowning split seep into me. From My Silent Wake's multifaceted exploration of their own influences and vision to The Drowning's raw fragility and piercing intensity, this release has impressed me in a genuinely subtle way, like a unique friendship can. Black Lights & Silent Roads stands before me as successfully ambitious, showing not only an intimate camaraderie between two metal bands but as an impassioned exploration into each band's musical potential and composing depth.
From the first moments as My Silent Wake's reworking of Attrition's hauntingly classic "I Am (Eternity)" fades in, I realized that this song was not just a curiosity for the band, but a song that represents a gateway into one of the several inspirations for the band's music itself. From the seething male vocals at its start, to the guitars that add a caustic dimension to the rhythmic drums, the band announces it is challenging itself and more than up to it. This song features Attrition mastermind Martin Bowes as well as vocals from fellow Attrition collaborator, Sin D'rella, and more importantly, is the first of four tracks that offer My Silent Wake's best production to date, one full of a harsh warmth and a clarity of each instrument that never was found on their prior releases. This is followed with "Bleak Endless Winter," which serves as the prelude to their full length released later this year, it is a song loaded with dramatic emotional outpourings and steadily increasing tension within a mostly death/doom framework, one that feels like a clenched fist at a point just before the mind releases it.
However, it is the final of the four songs on their side of the split that truly won me over here. It's always interesting to me the combination of my own mental state, the timing of a band writing and releasing a song, and its subsequent arrival in my collection, as to just how unlikely it is for a song to reach me at the exact moment I feel the same way it expresses itself. "Rebirth" is that rare song, and at one that exceeds 23 minutes, an even more unusual candidate for such an honor, as so many songs of this length are pretentious, overblown concepts, or meandering attempts at substance. Instead, "Rebirth" absorbs into the listener, developing unobtrusively beside you like a large piece of wood that floats along with you as you both drift with a river's steady current. Here the band largely moves away from any death/doom standards, delivering a relaxing spirit within such varying touches as chanted male vocals and off-putting female spoken words, guitar solos that smile like a ring of smoke as it rises and dissipates, and synths that feel more like wild flowers than the usual melancholic brown grass that the band seemed comfortable with until this point. A true favorite of mine on this release, one that seems to reflect quite a large part of me this year as well.
While My Silent Wake already gave us a hint as to The Drowning's composing on their side, offering an acoustic version of their song "Devoid Of Light," complete with a dulcimer and atypical percussion, The Drowning reverse the idea on their side. They give an abrasive, needling take on My Silent Wake's "A Photograph," a drastic change from the original's measured guitar picking. The Drowning also produce a track due on their forthcoming release, in that of "The Doomsday Feire," but for me this song is decent, but no more. I found the band at their most successful on "Arc Light," mainly because the uncommon clean vocals of James Moore are so much more interesting to behold, as they waver from uncertainty to confidence with each word. Add in the catchy riff of "Silent Epiphany," and, while not as exciting as the split's first half, this is a solid EP's worth of tracks and composing even if it lost a bit for me on its thin production.
Diverse, particularly on My Silent Wake's side of the split, and loaded with a strong understanding of each band's music and emotional messages, Black Lights & Silent Roads is highly recommended for anyone looking for something that diverges from the usual gothic-tinged doom/death mixtures out there. One of the most interesting splits I've come across in awhile.