I’ve done a lot of writing in the depressive black metal genre, more than I honestly thought I would. I’ve found bands that I loved, bands that I forgot about as soon as I listened, bands that I hated, and bands that I thought were good and would be better with some improvements. Abandoned by Light has appeared on the site couple of times now and each time he releases something the music gets better. Even if it’s in small increments. Abandoned by Light released his fifth full length album back at the end of May, Melancholia. It’s still not a perfect album, but it’s a much improved album, and I think that matters.
Melancholia is not nearly as long as it’s predecessor, Broken Mirror to the Stars, and I think that’s a very strong improvement. The previous album clocked in at nearly two and a half hours and was far too long to keep my interest. Melancholia clocks in at around an hour and a half which is still very long, but it still manages to hold my interest for the duration. Another improvement, I think, was the covers. Broken Mirror to the Stars was nearly half made of covers and we didn’t get to see a lot of real Abandoned by Light music, Melancholia does have some covers, including a very interesting take on Phantom of the Opera (more on that later) but we are able to see more of what Abandoned by Light can do and that’s important. Doing covers of your forebears is all well and good but I want to see what you can do first.
Melancholia is more aggressive than the previous albums. While those were content to sit back and wail their anger and thrash about, Melancholia moves much faster and wails a lot less. There’s more musicianship here than there was in previous albums. There’s still some depressive black metal trademark screeching and wailing but the music does more of a center stage here.
The album, like so many depressive black metal albums before it, focuses on the darker human emotions. Not just rage and anger but sadness and pain and despair. Again, not groundbreaking material but still entertaining. Not everything needs to be brand new to be good. I would love to see a more personal take on these emotions and how Abandoned by Light has dealt with them in the past. Perhaps the next album can be a concept album, a story of the artist himself. One thing that I did love about this album was the lyrics. Normally I skip over depressive black metal lyrics because, well their boring. I’m not being disrespectful when I say that, I’m just being honest. However, Melancholia’s lyrics were full of mythological and folkloric references which make the subject matter, well matter more. The subject of human emotions is very old and there are a hundred ways to look at them. Depressive black metal likes to look at the negative aspects of humanity and glorify them somewhat. Abandoned by Light does as well to an extent but he remains more neutral, looking at them the way a psychologist might. It’s an interesting take and I want to see him expand more on that. Overall, Melancholia asks one important question throughout: who do we hate more, God, man, or ourselves.
Melancholia is still a very raw slice of black metal. There’s nothing wrong with raw black metal, nothing whatsoever. However, I do contend that there is a difference between lo fi and just bad production. Melancholia, on the whole, has some pretty good production for what it is but I know can be better. I know more time can be taken to produce the right kind of atmosphere. Also, I though the vocals were good but they were too distorted by the music. They are much improved over the last album but the production of the vocals is hurting them. I can tell that a lot of work is being put into creating them, but with all the fuzz and ambient noise I can’t appreciate them as much as I want to. Overall, the production isn’t bad but there still room for improvement.
There’s some great interludes in the album, pianos and dark ambient soundscapes. I want to see more of that. I want to see what Abandoned by Light can offer a genre that’s more or less a one trick pony. Use more unconventional instruments and sounds, create an atmosphere that’s unique and engaging. Set yourself apart from the humdrum. Melancholia is definitely a step in the right direction and is thus far my favorite Abandoned by Light album.
Now let’s talk about that “Music of the Night” cover. I think it was an ambitious attempt. I will give props for that. I would have never thought that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music could be turned into black metal. Abandoned by Light did a good job translating the music. However, the lyrics and the vocals were something different altogether. The vocals arrangements on the original song are some of the most difficult to achieve, in order to the song justice one would have to follow those arrangements and their varying pitches. It’s hard. Even for those who aren’t screeching the lyrics. Abandoned by Light didn’t quite reach the heights it needed. It was a good attempt; I applaud the musical translation above all. Perhaps though, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s lyrics should remain in the original style.
Melancholia is a flaw but lively album, filled with aggression and motion. It improves on the faults and the shortcomings of the previous albums and makes headway into becoming a recognizable name. I know that the band can improve from here. He’s shown that he can progress his sound, now I want to see him take the leap. Listen to Melancholia and let me know what you thought of it.
Highlights: Astral Corpse of the Dead Sun, Autumn Colors Fade to Black
For Fans of: Mythology, I Shalt Become, Crebain
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- Melancholia (The Beginning)
- Astral Corpse of a Dead Sun
- Splinters of Shadow (Feat. Plagues)
- Autumn Colours Fade to Black
- The Midnight Raven Calls out to the Forgotten Depths
- Shed the Skin to Receive the World
- Mourning (The End)
- Depression – Part I (Abyssic Hate Cover)
- The Music of the Night (Phantom of the Opera Cover)
Released independently through Bandcamp May 29th, 2017