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There’s one thing you certainly can’t fault Azgorh for and that’s dedication to his work. With Oceans of Eternity now the twelfth full length release in seven years, not taking into account the endless sea of demos and splits as well, Drowning the Light have gradually progressed to become one of the most prolific and controversial black metal acts around at the minute. They’re a band who appear to divide audiences completely, you either love them or you hate them with very little mid way. Regardless of your opinion though, you can’t deny that they have done a commendable amount for the Australian black metal scene in recent years, intentional or not.
Gradually the quality of Drowning the Light’s material has improved from one album to the next, with the early releases patchy, right up to the latest which are formidable pieces of raw, unforgiving black metal that could easily stand up alongside many of their peers. Oceans of Eternity continues the trend and should really remove all doubts as to Azgorh’s motives as this is possibly his most accomplished work yet.
For those who aren’t familiar with Drowning the Light, a disease ridden bastard child of Mutiilation is the initial comparison that comes to mind, specifically the stifling, furnace like mayhem of Remains and you have something which comes pretty close to Oceans of Eternity. Upon delving a little further you can also pick out some Satanic Warmaster and even what I believe at times to be some slight Absurd influences, certainly in the riff structure anyway. The music on display here just oozes evil; Azgorh really has that barbaric underworldly sound down to a tee. Just take “As the Shadows Reach Our Enemies Throats”, it plays out like some mystic satanic war hymn with its pounding drums and surging riffs. There’s only one or two songs from the first half that I would say aren’t quite up to scratch, not poor by any means, just not as lasting as the rest. “The Poison Kiss” and “The Runes are Thrown and the Bones are Spread” are select highlights from what is essentially a constant rain of loosely bound malevolence, something which the production does a lot to enhance. Intentionally manipulating your sound to achieve a shitty production which is effective is a tough thing to do, though Azgorh has had more than enough experience at this.
It must be noted that Azgorh isn’t the most technically gifted on drums; he appears to only have two options at his disposal, a slow one-two beat and very-fucking-fast blasting with nothing in-between. But where his drum work may not be the most inspiring aspect of Drowning the Light, his vocals are absolutely savage, delivered with a manner and force that could tear the dead from their graves and bear more than a passing resemblance to Meyhna’ch. The guitar tone has been buried in so much distortion to the point where at times it resembles a swarm of angry bees in a biscuit tin. No bad thing though as it adds to the overall chaotic vibe, and Azgorh has always had a knack for writing some memorable riffs.
If you like your black metal unrefined and crude while still retaining some form of identity, Oceans of Eternity should be next on your list. It is the very essence of what underground black metal should sound like, although Drowning the Light themselves could hardly be described as being that underground these days, their sound is firmly rooted in it. Utterly unforgiving and stirring black metal from which there’s no respite, and dare I say it Azgorh’s best work yet. He may have his detractors, but when listening to this you can’t help but wonder why.