Rating:
7.4
Ebonylake - In Swathes Of Brooding Light
2011


01. And From The Seas The Sickening Things
02. I Painted The Suicide Of Neptune
03. The Curious Cave Of Deformities
04. In Swathes Of Brooding Light Skeletal Birds Scratch At Broken Windows
05. Human Mannequin Puppeteer
06. Licking At The Nesting's Of Young Fledglings

Bonus tracks:
07. Amethyst Lung Concerto
08. Within Deepest Red (The Opening Of..)
09. The Theory Of Sexual Carvings
10. A Voice In The Piano


In Swathes Of Brooding Light marks the first album by England's black metal act Ebony Lake in a dozen years.

If I were forced to describe this album in three words, I would describe it thus:

Chaotic. Fucking. Mess.

There is a fine line between genius and insanity. Ebony Lake walks this line in much the same fashion as the guy on Cops who just blew a .254 into the breathalyzer does that field sobriety test. At some points the chaos synchs up into something awesome. At others times it synchs up to "make the bad people stop!" Think "Bungle-Sagoth."

Trying to describe this album in the word count allotted is extremely difficult. Hell, some of the absurdly long song names damn near hit the word cap on their own. I will do my best to approximate this release.

Musically the basic backbone is furious black metal riffing, reminiscent of early Emperor, with the occasional hat tip to Blessed Are The Sick era Morbid Angel. The guitarist loves to dabble in "what can I do here to increase tension", as well as occasionally, "what is the absolute wrongest possible chord I could play here?" The drumming is often buried deep in the mix, but I do like what I hear on the title track, when he goes "George of the Ebony Jungle", as well as furious kit bashing on "The Curious Caves..." The attack - and it is a hostile invasion of your auditory senses - is furthered by synths and keyboards, which often times sound like someone trying to score an early 80's slasher film on a toy piano. Oh, and there is a bassist as well whom we occasionally hear from.

So guitars, drums, keyboards, bass... standard stuff. Just only occasionally used in the manner a black metal fan is familiar. Frequently it seems like perhaps they went Captain Beefheart on us, and had the band split into two different rooms to record parts, completely unaware of what was going on in the other room. Or it was a deliberate attempt on their part... "What can we do to make this more discordant? Unsettling?" At other points it all drops away to creepy ambient moments to allow you to let your guard down before unpleasantness resumes.

It's a lot of chaos.

Oh. And the vocals.

Ebony Lake seems to have had more vocalists on board for this recording than Anthrax has gone through in their 30 year history. Vocal approaches used, but are not limited to, include rasped, shouted, wails, creepy female vocals, roars, spoken bits... male and female. All used sporadically, and all buried in the raging wall of sound rather than in the fore... so it's all sort of ephemeral.

To give you an example of what's going on, "Licking At The Nesting's Of Young Fledglings" around the middle mark of the 10 minute track they just stop in the middle of furious Morbid Angel riffing and pounding, collapsing into moody strings, acoustic guitar quietly plucking a funereal dirge... this is buried under what sounds like the raging winds of a rainstorm breaking on the coastline.

In your right ear is a spoken part that sounds as if the speaking part were cast to one of the orcs from LOTR. In your other ear, you get a male operatic lead running through what sounds like vocal warm-up exercises. This goes on for a couple minutes before even the vocals drop out to a creepy ambient passage which goes on for four minutes.

I'm not making this shit up.

This album oscillates wildly between moods, tempos, and sonic approaches. Almost maddeningly. As I said before, these guys approached the fine line between genius and insanity like a downhill skier running a slalom.

This is the kind of album which will elicit a reaction. It might be amazement. It might be "kill this album with fire!" It might be annoyance. Incredulity. Hell, just open your thesaurus to an adjective at random and it will likely inspire that as well at some point.

So in a music scene with entirely too many bands playing it safe aping what came before, it's always good to hear an act willing to go off the deep end.

Ebony Lake opted to go off the deep end. By way of nitro burning funny car.


(note: tracks 7-10 are bonus tracks, taken from As Ghosts We Dance In Thrashing Seas.)

Performance: 8
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 10
Production: 8


 



Written on 15.11.2011 by
BitterCOld
BitterCOld has been officially reviewing albums for MetalStorm since 2009.
More reviews by BitterCOld ››



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silenius - 16.11.2011 at 18:16  
I realy need to check this out! sounds awesome xD
Troy Killjoy - 16.11.2011 at 19:34  
Craziest shit I've ever heard in my life.
dizzlemahnazgul - 16.11.2011 at 20:52  
Is english this reviewer's native tongue?
BitterCOld - 16.11.2011 at 21:15  
Written by dizzlemahnazgul on 16.11.2011 at 20:52

Is english this reviewer's native tongue?


why yes. yes it is. thank you for sharing.
Mattybu - 17.11.2011 at 02:21  
I have to say man reading your reviews no matter what album it is, whether it interests me or is a genre I like/dislike they are well written and your writing style really works for me... Nice job BitterCOld!

This sounds intriguing anyways, like something I just have a certain curiousity to hear as it certainly isn't typical in any sense of the word.
Mr. Doctor - 17.11.2011 at 16:11  
Definitely giving this guys an applause for not playing it safe at all and taking a big chance to make it sound right. I'm sure that with the right adjustments they can make something quite amazing. Nice review as usual, Craig.
Gral - 17.11.2011 at 18:10  
Good Review, I might have checked this one out, but I blew all my money away already

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