Perhaps it’s got something to do with the climate, or perhaps it’s because my understanding of Australian culture is limited to Crocodile Dundee, but when I think of Australia, I hardly ever think of metal. In fact, the only metal bands I can seem to think of from Down Under are the incredible melodic death metal band Be’lakor, the technical death band Psycroptic and the god-awful metalcore band Parkway Drive. Oh, and AC/DC, which isn’t actually metal at all. Not exactly a bustling scene, it would seem. Unless the kangaroos know something we don’t…
Hailing from Perth, Australia, Advent Sorrow wishes to inject some new blood into the scene with their debut EP Before The Dimming Light. And I must say that for a self-released (and apparently also self-produced) EP, this is incredible. It manages to pull influences from the epic sounds of Septic Flesh, the careful structuring of Carach Angren, the vocals of Behemoth, and the well-produced flair of Dimmu Borgir, all without sounding derivative or boring. The album’s concept lies in the atrocities of a serial killer and the subsequent punishment for his crimes, and is a deftly woven narrative made all the better by the equally entertaining instrumentals and songwriting.
Advent Sorrow is confident in their style and it really shows. They don’t stray far from the traditions of their genre, with a few notable exceptions. For instance, black metal has been gradually taking on more death metal influences over recent years, and since I already tend more towards death metal than black metal anyhow, the recent wave of “blackened death” is a welcome trend as far as I am concerned. This choice is upheld on this release, and is most apparent in the vocals, which are guttural and ferocious, rather than the high-pitched shrieks common to traditional Norwegian black metal bands. Another exception is the use of keyboards to create a layer of complexity and atmosphere, which is thankfully neither sparse nor heavy-handed. The guitars show more range than is typical of the genre, providing some high impact crunch as well as some nice mid-tempo higher-frequency riffage that compels you to bang your goddamn head as each song flows effortlessly into the next. The rest is standard fare, with agile drums that provide ample rhythm, despite being a little low in the mix for my liking, right along with the bass.
I do have a few minor quibbles with this release however. The first such complaint lies with the ostensible lack of experimentation. On the one hand, I suppose it’s just greedy to expect a 25-minute EP to have a whole ton of variety. What’s here is top-notch, and it’s a solid release overall. But I can’t help hoping for something that will truly surprise these jaded ears of mine, and demand my everlasting loyalty. Taake shocked people not just because he included a banjo solo on his recent album, but because he actually managed to make it work within its context. The second goes hand in hand with the first, and that is pacing. Like a Michael Bay film, this album is fast-paced, action-packed, and quite brief. There’s very few quiet moments save for the wistful opening moments of a couple of the songs, and I’d like to hear more of that within the songs themselves to provide balance. And lastly, I’d like to hear some more separation between each individual instrument. While not as claustrophobic as many similar releases, it is sometimes hard to pick out some of the specific elements in the mix. But I’m basically just nit-picking now.
What it comes down to is this: Do you like well-executed symphonic black metal? Do you want to support a rather obscure band, and have the satisfaction of being able to say “I was there from the beginning” when they become huge someday? Do you think that one dollar is a good bargain for 25 minutes worth of music? Then what the hell are you waiting for? Get yourself over to Advent Sorrow‘s BandCamp and show them your horns on FaceBook!