The last time this series had any inkling of a life was many moons ago. And yet this has been a long running one spread over 4 years. Never mind that. Let’s get to the music shall we?
A Pregnant Light – Devotion Unlaced EP (Colloquial Sound Recordings)
Damian Master is indeed a strange being. A prolific musician with more than 15 musical projects going on at the same time, a label(Colloquial Sound Recordings) to run and much more. And yet his pet project has always been ‘A Pregnant Light’ adhering to the self-proclaimed ideals of ‘purple metal’. Definitely cheesy sounding? Yes. In praxis? No. Purple metal is well, I’d say someplace where the ideals of melodic hardcore sway in the cold blackened gale from the North. No discussion on this fact is true without drawing comparisons with Deafheaven. And yet A Pregnant Light always seemed to be at a farer place, on a distant planet waltzing in its own purple haze. Some of his best material, and my first time encounter with the band’s material was when they released the double single ‘Purple Pain/Ultraviolet’. The content of black metal in it was minimal(the chalk rudimentary required) while it had soaring rock leads, cleans plus abrasive vocals and a strong feel-good vibe. A resoundingly hopeful sort of music something we are all quite unaccustomed to. And maybe that was it. That exaltation of the tension at the seams when one genre crosses into another, a railing against the confines of tradition. The first full length ‘My Game Doesn’t Have a Name’ as the name suggests was precisely that. Emotive bliss.. a description rarely ascribed to any record in the genre.
Come 2017 and you have his 20th release under the same moniker. ‘Devotion Unlaced’ is a departure of sorts, in fact its more riff centric, I’d daresay.. more metal than any of his previous efforts. Begging to be Adored begs to be taken note of. Riffs left and right, almost like a rock-era Riot (Narita/Rock City) rendition of A Pregnant Light. Closer My Violence even takes a dip into frenzied tremolo driven waters. Power and conviction rides high on this one.
Runespell – Aeons of Ancient Blood – demo(Iron Bonehead Productions)
Draugrs stir in the catacombs, the chalice gleams with the blood of the fallen… Death and glory limn upon the chosen. Review in haiku? Maybe, and yet that’d be how I’d describe this demo.
All this calls for a brand of black metal bound by tradition and heralding the values of yore. The Hellenic school is cut out for this sort of thing like no other. The band in question here, Runespell, takes cues from early Rotting Christ, Varathron and Hammerheart-era Bathory to craft something truly enduring. The riffs set the pace and melody for each song, casting the structure with a certain lithe. Vistas of the frigid north are once replaced by armies of yore, clad in the finest livery and marching into the horizon to answer the call of battle. Indeed a perfect counterpoint to what a band like A Pregnant Light’s music had espoused and yet all the better for it.