Label: Blackened Death Records / Self-released
Despite only coming to life in 2013, one-man DSBM band Abandoned by Light are now already on their sixth album, And Here I Stand, Betwixt Light and Dark. Whilst that rapid level of output would often be a cause for a concern, And Here I Stand… quickly puts any such fears to bed. It is a marked improvement over previous albums, and whilst it may not take DSBM to any new places, it is such a confident, forceful album that this is not an issue. Those looking to dwell upon their misery and darkness could do far worse for a soundtrack to such dark meditations than this album; raw, hateful, and captivating, this is the essence of DSBM distilled to its core.
Key to the success of any DSBM album is the atmosphere it creates, and And Here I Stand… establishes that early on, with the introductory track ‘Caressed by the Dying Embers’ conjuring ominous soundscapes that set the scene for the darkness that follows. The DSBM it gives way to is vicious, filled with aggression and pain, unleashing violence in rabid fashion. In this way, there is just as much raw black metal in the sound of Abandoned by Light as there is DSBM.
Yet as violent as it often is, the key with And Here I Stand… – and DSBM at large – is the music’s ability to draw the listener in to its dark vortex and keep them entranced for its duration. This is something that And Here I Stand… does better than its predecessor, Melancholia. There’s little secret to this, save for that most difficult and simple of things: the riffs are stronger, and the structures come together in more solid ways. It also helps that the albums feels more textured, with moments such as the guitar solo and piano during ‘Summoning Annihilation From Infernos Maw’ providing greater contrast and more distinctive elements. Likewise, the inclusion of an interlude track roughly halfway through the album helps break up proceedings, without interrupting the flow and mood of And Here I Stand…
Some issues still persist, though. At 79 minutes, And Here I Stand… is a long album, and the tracks are all long, with no non-interlude track being shorter than 7 minutes. By this stage it is clear that having songs and records of this length is a deliberate choice by sole member Karhmul, and for those times when you want to lose an entire evening in misery it is to the albums benefit; but it also means that, if the mood is broken for whatever reason, it can be hard to be entranced by the album as fully as you might otherwise be. That said, as with practically any album that aims to be hypnotically captivating, this is an album that is best listened to without any external distractions that might break the spell of the strong music on offer.
The self-released digital version also includes two closing covers that provide an interesting way to see the album out. ‘Golden Number’ by Ghost Bath features much brighter melodies than anything else on the album, and the juxtaposition is interesting, though were such melodies present earlier in the album they would upset the atmosphere created. The cover of Myrkur’s ‘Nattens Barn’ is also interesting, replacing the soft female vocals of the original with synthesised choirs; I’m not entirely convinced it’s a success, but it’s a brave attempt at covering one of modern black metal’s biggest, most distinctive names.
These closing covers are curios more than anything though, and in some ways the album is stronger without them, letting Abandoned by Light’s own voice come through without distraction. Granted, that voice may be one filled with misery and raw, aching hurt, but it is one that is deeply captivating, and made for losing hours to, entranced by its sorrow and pain. This album could mark a turning point for Abandoned by Light, being their strongest offering to date, and it’s little surprise that it will see a wider release courtesy of Blackened Death Records.
And Here I Stand, Betwixt Light and Dark is due for re-release via Blackened Death Records on 11 December 2017. Follow Blackened Death on Facebook for details. The original release can be downloaded and streamed via the Abandoned by Light Bandcamp page.