One of the most important elements of black metal is atmosphere. Depending on what you’re going for, atmosphere can greatly vary from band to band, however what’s important is to make it immersive. The listener should be able to feel the music coursing through their entire body as it makes them colder from the inside. They should be able to imagine themselves standing alone in a cold, dark place, staring into an abyss or treading through harsh landscapes. Black metal is death. It is nihilism. It is the end of hope.
The genre also allows for complete and total expression, so sub-genres like depressive black metal are bound to emerge. Since black metal commonly encompasses slower tempo’s, repetitive riffs and drum beats, and vocals stemming from complete mental anguish, a sub-genre that focuses on depression, self-destruction and suicide is quite fathomable. I know DSBM gets a bad reputation for being repetitive and boring, but I’d like to show you guys an album that really stand out from the rest.
Waiting for my End is a one-man depressive black metal project created by A.K., who’s already involved with other French black metal projects like Decline of the I, Malhkebre, Merrimack, The Order of Apollyon, and Vorkreist. Pretty busy guy, and for a musician of this caliber it’s not surprising that he would eventually create something a little more personal on his own. The album artwork is actually a reference to a Swedish writer named Stig Dagerman and his poem Vårt behov av tröst – literally meaning Our Need Of Consolation Is Insatiable; a fitting title for the album! The record was unleashed via Atavism Records on October 13th this year.
The album opens with a very buzzing and disorienting guitar that feels typical of the genre, but serves as a way to get you prepared for the listen. From there, we’re thrown into the abyss and each track serves as void of depression; the emotions spiral deeper and deeper into your consciousness until you’re staring blankly wondering what your purpose is. Each track drags the listener through a plane of relentless misery and unreachable hope. The spoken voice samples towards the latter half of the album are a great detail that add a nice nuance and break the repetitiveness, informing the listener that their end is closing in.
There’s a lot of different types of DSBM; sometimes it’s fast and aggressive (Mount Depression), sometimes it’s ambient and experimental (Xasthur or Ofdrykkja), and other times it’s more relaxing and numbing (Unjoy). There’s of course variations among bands, but this album is more of a combination of numbing and ambient. The atmosphere immerses you into the music to the point where your senses let themselves fall asleep and all you can focus on is your pain. At times, the slow paced rhythm combined with the mournful melodic solutions create a doom metal–like soundscape, and the combination of the cyclic riffs and melancholic melodies create a thoroughly beautiful, yet mournful, atmosphere.
The overall sound is very typical for this genre of music. The guitar riffs are highly distorted, but a fair amount of clean guitar work is used as well in order to add a certain calmness every now and then. The sound is rather raw, but not over-the-top shitty (which is the case with a lot of black metal bands). I personally enjoy this “midway” of mixing; not overly produced, but a good, natural sounding mix.
The vocals are well executed as well, although nothing new in the genre either. The vocals consist mainly of utterly agonizing screams and wailing that don’t really follow a structure in the song, but rather just pop up from time to time during a riff. It’s typical for DSBM, and this is the kind of genre that get’s away with it. It’s as if the the instrumentation is the soundtrack for the artists depression, and he wails over it as an outward expression of anguish.
This album is special because depressive black metal is a very personal musical experience. For me, it has to connect with you on some personal level and provide a soundtrack to your own life experiences. Our Need Of Consolation Is Insatiable does this very well by providing an escape for 40 or so minutes; a window that you can open and look through to take in all the desolation outside. The combination of the wretched vocals, pained atmosphere, soothing clean guitars, and some ambient elements make this album just as relaxing as it is depressing.
Waiting for My End is a breath of fresh air in the depressive black metal genre. The scene is quite large at this point and there’s a lot of stinkers, so a project like this is nice to have around; I wouldn’t be surprised if a split or an EP was coming soon. I can’t wait to hear more from A.K. and perhaps hear even more diversity in the next release as this project moves along. 8.5/10.
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This review was written in cooperation with my friend T. S. Margraf! Check out his band Laguz Rune on Facebook.
Obscurum and T. S. Margraf