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Similar to, say, Immolation's Close to a World Below or Lykathea Aflame's Elvenefris, Antithesis of Light is one of those albums that actually seems to have developed such a devoted sect of circlejerking fans that at this point it's probably more notable for its hype than the album itself. I always lament when an album gets to this point in popularity, because usually from that point onwards you can't ever get any meaningful discussion out of a conversation about the album - you'll get a bunch of vague terms like "awesome", "atmospheric", "heavy" and so on but no one ever actually wants to think about what the album fucking sounds like. It's the epitome of an echo chamber, where everyone keeps parroting everyone else, but with no one to contest the album's status, discussion becomes a mindless, retarded circlejerk. I hate this phenomenon even when it affects albums I personally love to death, so I thought that today I might do a bit to dispel at least one case of this that particularly annoys me. Antithesis of Light is, by popular opinion, the objectively darkest, heaviest and greatest metal album of all time, perfectly composed with every single element of its composition in an objectively flawless place. To which I say... "lol". That's really just about the best way to sum up my reaction when people talk about the album in this manner:
"The chord progressions are genius! The entire sound is so dark and mysterious and the vocals -"
"WHAT!? Is your philistine excuse for a brain incapable of appreciating the masterful atmosphere created by the -"
Perhaps I've been a bit harsh thus far. This isn't a bad album, by any means, and it has its cooler moments, but every time I look at this album's framework in search of some sort of masterpiece, I'm drawn out of the mood by the band's flaws, which are surprisingly not only present but numerous and nearly incessant. But we can get to those flaws later; let's start with the good, eh? On Antithesis of Light, Evoken play a cavernous, echoing type of funeral doom that sort of rhythmically slithers around, like a steady current of an underground stream flowing through tenebrous caverns. The sound in general is very, very layered: not very thick, mind you, but at the very least it's active in the way the subtle orchestral synths and distorted guitars occasionally rise slowly from the flow of the music, like a hulking beast lifting its frame from below the depths. Their melodies are rather irrelevant, though, and honestly the highlight of the band's performance is the bass guitar. The bass... drips. I think that's a pretty good term to describe it; it's wet, has a lot of reverb, and each slowly but decisively plucked note tends to ring as if it were a drinking glass being struck with a metal spoon. The bass notes and melodies spread out and lose definition the longer they echo throughout the music, like drops falling into a puddle and the ripples subsequently reverberating outwards. I really do love the bass guitar performance here, and the times when the guitars fade out of the music and let the twanging, isolated melodies dominate the music are probably those that come closest to capturing the idea of an "antithesis of light".
Aside from those atmospheric oddities, though, the music's pretty standard for funeral doom standards in the compositional sense. Aside from a couple of really oddly-placed blast beats early on in "In Solitary Ruin", the music plods around at typical funeral doom paces, varying from slow-to-mid-paced, almost upbeat momentous sections to slow, minimalistic crawling. The vocals are pretty predictable as well, if not well-executed for the most part: a fittingly dry, deep growl hisses out in the undercurrents of the guitars at random intervals, occasionally receiving support from some goofy, almost black metal-like rasping. The guitars typically play really simplistic droning chords on the lower strings, with occasional higher shrieks of lead guitars or soloing permeating the firmaments of the music. So, we've established that aside from a couple of atmospheric oddities, Evoken mostly stick to the book with their music; now what exactly is the problem?
...Well, it's actually pretty much everything else. Antithesis of Light fails in a couple of really important ways, the kind you generally think would have been noticed before the band decided to head into a recording studio with this album. The guitar riffs, for one. Holy tits, the riffs are boring. The album sits around for 71 minutes and coughs up maybe two or three cool guitar melodies in that entire time, with the rest being laughably irrelevant to the album's overall goal. And I know what you're thinking right about now, fannyflustered Evoken fan: "IT'S FUNERAL DOOM IT'S ABOUT ATMOSPHERE I BET YOU WERE LOOKING FOR PROGRESSIVE DEATH METAL RIFFS YOU DUMMY!!!" Well, I'm hardly a connoisseur of funeral doom, but I'm also not the type to look for complex riffage where it obviously doesn't belong. I listen to plenty of drone/ambient bands and I understand it's totally okay to make stuff that isn't designed to actively engage the listener... but it should still be stimulating if the listener decides to tune in. Meanwhile, every single move Antithesis of Light makes is horribly predictable: you can figure out exactly how most of the album's riffs are going to end two beats into them because they're so horribly lifeless (I hesitate to even call them cliché, because that term seems to imply that something adheres to the norm to a fault; but I'm sure even the total average of all funeral doom riffs would sound better than the riffs on this album), and even the songs as a whole don't really take any turns that would provide much of a compositional climax.
The weak riffs aren't helped by the fact that the guitar tone itself, while admittedly pretty heavy in the grand scheme of things, is flimsy and lacks definition by funeral doom standards; whereas I imagine Evoken fans see the album's riffs as crushing them under massive, pummeling thuds of melody, they've never been able to do such for me because the guitars are devoid of essential tinges of bass and clouded by too much fuzz. I described the music as a stream earlier, and dripping into puddles, but it shouldn't feel like that - ideally, Evoken should be making waves, not quiet, docile pools of uninhibited water. It works alright when the bass twangs out all by itself, because it's suited to the mystical atmosphere perfectly, but the underwhelming guitars really just make the pompous, ornate nature of the music feel even sillier and more unjustified. It's at times like this when the album just feels sort of haphazarly stapled together, like the band copy/pasted "dark" synths over every single "dark" guitar riff they had to accentuate the dark atmosphere of the dark songs on their dark album which was just so fucking dark, all the while undoubtedly thinking to themselves "GOD THIS IS EASY PEOPLE WILL EAT THIS SHIT UP". And they did.
It's worth noting that Antithesis of Light is actually pretty laughably bad at songwriting as far as chaining pieces together goes. The band have no idea how to switch between two different riffs, particularly those with different tempos. It manages to feel only somewhat off when the band are at their absolute slowest, but when they're at faster speeds it starts to become painfully obvious that the transitions are painfully awkward and unfitted (seriously, listen to around 1:40 of the title track as the band wildly jerk from a flowing, subtle, cascading passage to an abruptly stompy and massive riff and try to pass it off like nothing happened). Considering how often Evoken shift from heavy guitars to slow, quiet bass passages, the carelessness of their compositions tends to border on disaster. I think the best transitions for this type of funeral doom would be the kind that gradually slow down or speed up, and Evoken do utilize these on multiple occasions, but they obviously need to do so much more often to keep their riffs from sounding like sudden interruptions from the riffing equivalent of the Kool-Aid Man.
The resulting atmosphere is... eh. I mean, it's objectively kind of dark and somewhat mystical, I'll give it that, but the band use so many stereotypically "dark" elements that it doesn't feel particularly impressive that their overall vibe landed somewhere in that general direction. Furthermore, it doesn't really pull it off particularly well - as far as "antitheses of light" go I still tend to think of bands like Khanate, Wormphlegm and Murkrat instead of this album. Not that I think they should be removed for quality's sake, but if the synths were gone I think this album would actually be a lot more effective at sounding as "dark", "evil", "horrendous", and so on as most people seem to think it is. In its current state the album is little more than a jack-o-lantern left out on Halloween night - dark and evil, but only in the most familiar, obvious and predictable manner.
I admire the bass and the vocal performance on Antithesis of Light greatly, and usually when I'm actively listening to this album I'm not nearly as openly critical of it as I have been with this review. But it's not exactly stimulating when I listen to it that way, either, and so with this review I was determined to figure out exactly why it's so horribly underwhelming of an album. It's nowhere near worthless, and I have no intentions to pass it off as being such. It's got a cool mystical, cavernous vibe throughout it all, despite the utter banality of the individual musical elements, and that's enough for me to grade this album as sitting just above the "mediocre" line.
I think the lesson here is that perhaps the only reason no one's expressed disapproval of lots of metal's holy cows yet is because they're still trying to contact their local governments and seek political asylum as dissidents to avoid getting lynched by people with Evoken's logo tattooed on their face. It doesn't mean that the occasional Jimbob who frowns upon your pet band lacks a good reason. I certainly didn't.
It is not very difficult to sound evil: while some bands are better than others in terms of making metal that sounds malevolent, it is easy to regurgitate scales in the highest octave of the synthesizer and to back it up with blast beats. The point is that while efficient in terms of making the listener nervous, this kind of approach to metal requires at least some energy and most of the metal bands that are going for “evil” music sometimes can’t help but write passages that are undeniably catchy, and that is why funeral doom is a style that is so hard to balance. The ultimate goal of a good funeral doom band is to make an album that is sorrowful, pessimistic and disturbingly intimate while being ultimately slow and antisocial, and unfortunately it doesn’t take much for an album to become overdone and boring. However, the boredom that sometimes barrages the average doom/death listener mercilessly is not a problem as big as the lack of innovation: in their desperation to make music that sounds miserable a lot of bands do exactly what has been done before, making it hard for the listener to enjoy it or even take the band seriously.
Fortunately, Evoken’s magnum opus is one of the few albums that manage to be heavy-as-fuck and slow-as-fuck without showing any of the bad death/doom symptoms. In terms of lyrics, “Antithesis of Light” is an album that is more existentialist/nihilist than most (even in funeral doom standards). In terms of music, it has astonishing chord progression, creative melodies and a sense of dread that begins with the introduction and finishes with the last verses of “The Last of Vitality”. The atmospheric nature of the album and the fact that all but one song are a part of the masterpiece rather than being multiple masterpieces by themselves (which reminds me of The Chasm’s “Farseeing the Paranormal Abysm”) makes it easy to be brought to a desolate land populated by fading souls that you won’t be able to leave for at least 72 minutes.
The musicianship here is great: not only the masters of musical reinvention surprise you without making you feel uncomfortable but also work on every breakdown and riff as if their lives depended on it. The keyboards are as bleak as possible: they melodically fluctuate when the guitarist is doing his job and when he isn’t they ultimately find their place in the distant nothingness. Distance is something omnipresent here, by the way. While the keyboards and the bass are the instruments that sound further away from you and your insignificantly short and meaningless existence, the whole band seems to ignore the presence of the listener and make the music to themselves (I know that isn’t true, but it is exactly what it seems like). The whole recording is sorrowful, and with it the existentialist band reduces everything to its most basic level (they actually mention molecules during a passage in the title track). They try to get across that life is absolutely meaningless and that we are just a bunch of mater put together.
Some people tend to say that "In Solitary Ruin" stands out from the rest of the album because of the presence of blast beats, but that track is similar to the rest of the recording in many ways. The heaviness, the pacing and the vocals are exactly like you expect them to be, and while a short passage in which blast beats are used as background to very slow music is surely interesting, it doesn't magage to make the song much different from the others. The title track is the only one that stands out individually. It is not my favorite track from the recording (place that is taken by Accursed Premonition and its chilling keyboards introduction) but it is undoubtedly the most interesting one: it begins warmly, which contrasts with the cold nature of the album, but quickly descends into pure nihilist madness. This song’s lyrics talk about the scientifically proven fact that if our universe continues to expand everything will be converted in nothingness. The song tells us how nothingness (AKA the Antithesis of Light) is going to turn everything (life, your dreams, the stars and so on) into “molecular shadow”. Well, you got the idea.
Evoken’s Antithesis of Light is one of my favorite albums, and I am not even a huge fan of death/doom. It is completely free of mistakes, approaching nihilism and existentialism in the most mature way possible; it is tense and empty as any funeral doom recording should be, yet doesn’t leave you annoyed or uncomfortable. The musicianship is great; so great, actually, that while listening to it you are likely to be sent into a trance (a real, almost scary one that sometimes puts you to sleep if you are relaxed enough). The subtle melodies delivered by the keyboards are undeniably creative and the whisper-like death growls (which are the only kind of vocals present, apart from some narration) are frightening yet sound completely sad and sincere. This is probably the best album there is in terms of doom metal, and while it can’t be used in order to headbang it provides 72 minutes of marvelous music, gray mental images and food for thought.
Possibly burdened by the overwhelmingly positive reviews I had read of this album, the first time I listened to it, it fell way short of expectation. I gave it two more spins the same day, still same result. And then I returned to it after a week or so, and this time it sounded more promising.
The album starts off fine. It is rare to have an intro that does not seem unnecessary to the rest of the album. So kudos to Evoken for having an intro that fits in beautifully with the music that follows. 'In Solitary Ruin' for me is the best song in the album. The first 3-ish minutes especially is textbook definition of how good melancholic metal music should sound. After that it goes into an exploratory mode, with the pattern of music changing roughly every two minutes evoking moods that alternate between oh-look-they-just-bombed-that-city gloom to oh-look-they-all-killed-themselves gloom. Which is all good, for that is what they want to achieve. The problem starts when they start repeating this same formula for every song that follows. When I say repetition I do not mean 'Why are they playing the same riff for 10 minutes?' which most funeral doom metal bands get into the trap of, and nor do I mean 'Every song sounds the same!' either. My grouse is that they have structured all their songs the same way, and the twists and turns that they try to provide in their songs become very predictable and jaded as you progress in the album. Each song in isolation is a great track. But as an album, it somehow does not gel.
As for the musicians, each one of them proves without any doubt that they are on the top of their game. The riffs are suitably heavy and can drown you with their weight, and the drums sound menacing and threatening to explode throughout. Just the way they should. And the vocals, a mix of growls and whispers, although nothing spectacular, fits in well with the music. Put all of this together, and what you get is a good doom/death album. But the spark, or that X factor which would make it stand out and make you want to listen to it again and again - that is missing. So, a masterpiece it is not.
Let me just first say I am really bad with writing reviews, as I am bad with words. However music doesn’t really need to involve good language to interpret when listening to it. I may not be able to reflect the true dark and gut wrenching feeling of this album through my review. I can assure you this is the darkest and most eerie album you may ever hear.
I consider this album (as of when this review was written, and most likely for a while) to be the second best metal album ever, Blackwater Park being number one. There are a few other doom bands that sound like this, Catacomb or Abysmal Sorrow for example, but none of those bands are able to pull of their music with such mastery or intelligence. This particular album stands out to me due to the constant uncomfortable feeling of darkness and doom. When you listen to this album, you can really only think of dark or depressing thoughts. As one review I read stated earlier, which I agree with, this album really seems to crush and compress you with the heaviness and intense mood of the music.
For the most part, this album is incredibly slow. Every riff seems to hold out with a profound amount of sustain, and has an incredible minor tone to it. Every instrument is tuned and sounded perfectly to fit the music. All the lead guitar melodies have an eerie, fuzzy tone to it, the low and distorted guitars have loads of sustain, the drums are loud and have a huge echo, and the keyboards sound distant and cold. There are no soft parts on this album; all the vocals are harsh, low and angry, and the music is constantly dark and evil.
Every instrument is just perfectly arranged, and carried out with brilliant mastery. I absolutely love the keyboard passages that just float in the background with a level of eeriness. The guitars seem to rumble the earth with their classic doom style playing, and the drums are ingenious (I’ll get to that later.) The vocals are incredibly low and actually sound like no other vocalist in any genre. The vocals talk a lot about suffering and apocalyptic themes and the sound of the music really reflects this quite well. I think the man who wrote most of this music is massively depressed. There are many passages with a non distorted guitar that is loaded with reverb. Every note played by it makes a statement and just echoes away, fading beneath the echo of every other instrument. The drums are ingenious on this album, songs such as Pavor Nocturnus have passages where the drums will start going insane yet always resolving back to the beat, and keep a constant beat despite the extremely slow speed of the music.
Most of this album may be an acquired taste. First of all I cannot imagine somebody who has never listened to metal before to enjoy this album, as it goes beyond any form of cliché in metal. Everything about this album is just dark and extreme. Also the vocals may be tough to listen to, as they are extremely low and almost whispered, but with tones of shaky tone to them. However, if you have much experience with metal and are very tolerant of extreme sounding stuff GET THIS ALBUM.
I'm not really one to jump on bandwagons, yet this is one I must leap to the top of. Up until a few months ago, I merely heard of Evoken's legacy, without actually hearing it for myself. This, as my review title says, is the most miserable album I have ever heard. It is good misery however, because it does not give me a "sick to my stomach, this band is terrible" misery. It is a melancholic misery that just sucks you in and refuses to let go until the record is finished. It is a trance-inducing misery, if you will.
I did not really expect much when I heard the intro to this album, but I was pleasantly surprised at the start of the second song. The instruments just come together so perfectly, and the vocals put forth on this album are some to give people not hardened to the ways of doom/death nightmares.
The guitars are among some of the absolute heaviest I have ever heard. They play such great riffs as well, not to be masked by the heavy tone and distortion, like most bands tend to do. The guitar players have superb talent on this album, playing slow, yet very intricate riffs that make the songs sound shorter than they actually are. By this I mean, they are never boring and will not make you want to change the song. I cannot really distinguish too much bass, as it seems to follow the guitars, but I'm not complaining. It just adds to the absolute void the album will create in you upon first listen, and for many more.
The keyboards on this album are the most ominous keyboards I have ever heard. They add to the dark atmosphere put on this album. Power metallers beware, there is not a bit happiness and upbeat melodies to be found on the keyboard tracks put on this album. The keyboards tend to take lead in quite a few of the songs, as they appear to be the most heard out of all the instruments; they are used correctly, of course. They are perhaps what makes the album so sad and miserable in that they usually set the mood for the songs and keep the mood going until the ends of the songs.
The drums on this album sound like a storm of hatred coming to overtake your mind. They are undoubtedly the loudest instrument on this album, and whether the band intended upon this or not, it worked out very much so in their favor. The one thing I have to criticize, however, is that the snare and a couple of cymbals sounded too tinny. But it does not take away from their impact enough to be a problem.
Nick Orlando has some of the most amazing vocals I have ever heard. His brooding growls sent shivers down my back upon first listen of this album. He has an amazing low that I have yet to see surpassed, even by brutal death metal vocalists. Evoken could not possibly function as well with another vocalist, as they would not be able to find somebody as talented as Nick Orlando on the vocals. His vocals are what embody pure audial darkness.
I do not recommend this album to many people. This is one only for a certain few who are ready to experience that pure audial darkness. This is an inaccessible perfection. It is heavy beyond belief and it has a production that helps create the void this album truly is. I cannot compare this album to any other band, except for the fact that they are heavily influenced by Disembowelment. However, they perfected the art Disembowelment started. They have it down better than Disembowelment can ever dream to have had it. If you are ready to delve into pure darkness and negativity, then feel free to give Antithesis of Light a listen. If not, then I vehemently tell you to steer clear.
What happened to doom/death metal after the mid 90s? Somehow, I theorize it diverged into two distinct paths. It became either sad, slow, gothic melodeath, or the mixed bag which can be total shit or really awesome, funeral doom. What happened to doom/death's balls? Why did this castration inexplicably take place? There was such a perfect fusion of aggression and thoughtful, contemplative, mature melancholy. There were no lovers in fishnets, no high school teen angst, and no god damn vampires. I won't claim I was there and saw doom/death lose both it's manhood and it's erudite introspective sorrow to be replaced by hackneyed gothic fallen angel, lost lovers, and vampire bullcrap, but damn I'll say Evoken sure didn't fall into this. This is awesome, this is death/doom with a nice balance of aggression and sadness.
It's funny though, isn't it? Hate, anger, sadness, bitterness, and sorrow; these emotions are so well acquainted with each other. Why is it that musicians, in doom metal, in extreme metal, and in all forms of music, struggle to convey them all without sounding contrived and awkward? Well, I don't know how, but Evoken sure have pulled it off throughout their careers. You'll find them here, every imaginable negative emotion coupled with a suffocating and bleak, inescapable atmosphere. I'm not going to lie, when I first heard this in 2005 as an uninitiated My Dying Bride fan, this scared the fucking piss out of me. This album so perfectly embodies darkness and terror. Some doom metal manages to capture the darkness and sorrow we all feel at some point, but few manage to simultaneously actually scare you with just how bleak this is. It's eye opening and awakening, we live in a world where even the luckiest of us experience pain, suffering, death, loss, and crippling fear of it all. Ignorance is bliss, they say. Evoken reflect the world in all of it's horrific and tragic glory, it's not an easy listening experience and not everyone can enjoy this kind of music. It's almost the musical equivalent of watching war or genocide footage or something, just downright horrifying, it enlightens you to all the suffering and evil inherent in humanity and the world we live in. But alas, there are the even more crushing thoughts of hope, which are so quickly and painfully backlashed against and immediately destroyed.
This isn't easy to listen to, and is even harder to truly appreciate. All other Evoken albums have either some type of escapist qualities to them or even some genuinely uplifting moments. Antithesis of Light is one of the most bleak, crushing, and extreme albums in music. It's dissociative on some level. There is no wallowing in self pity like other "melancholic" music, only a bleak gaze unto the horrors of humanity and existence.
A lof of doom has a tendancy to creat a sorrowful and sad atmosphere, but often those bands use quite a lot of clichÃ©s making it hard to take them serious in any way. Generally the death doom subgenre has lost my interest. There is a serious lack of innovation and a lot just sounds the same. And then there is Evoken. As the title suggests this is dark and by that I mean genuinely dark. Listening to Antithesis of Light makes you feel evil and well simply inhuman. The album takes off with the excellent In Solitairy Ruin. It's no secret that this is pure dISEMBOWELMENT worship. Like the australian outfit, this track features quite some agressive up-tempo parts whilst crushing you like nothing has ever crushed you before. Really, after just 11 minutes of In Solitairy Ruin you will be gasping for air and praying for mercy. Well forget that. This is pure unpenetratable darkness, mercy plays no part in the sound of Evoken. There are no sorrowful leads or melancholic breaks to be found here, nothing but dismal in its purest form. John Paradiso is one of the better vocalists out there. He has a deep growl often mixing it up with some soft whispers. This is the kind of vocalist you for an evil beast as Antithesis of Light. Next to the stellar vocal performance, John also takes up the role as guitarist together with Nick Orlando. Both men give it their best effort to date and the dual guitar work does miracles for Antithesis of Light and is mainly responsible for creating such an evil atmosphere. Alongside the more traditional instruments the cello also claims an active part. The title track definitely takes the best advantage of this. But like always Evoken know when to use it. Everything is perfectly balanced out.
The entire record is very consistent and cannot be faulted in any way. Production wise it's even a step up from Quietus. Everything sounds really heavy and suffocating and adds so much more to the general sound. Evoken are also the masters of using keyboards effectively. They are added in a very tasteful way, instead of being a cheesy factor which dominates almost the entire sound. The Mournful Refusal is a nice example of how well they are used. All tracks are of an incredibly high standard, but personally for me Antithesis of Light and The Last of Vitality stand out. Antithesis of Light starts off with a beautiful intro masterfully done by Denny Hahn with his keyboard. It doesnâ€™t take long before the unforgiving onslaught again reveals itself. As was previously stated the cello plays a rather active role in this song and instead of bringing some form of relief it only further enhances the suffocating sound in a very subtle manner. With the words Darkness Once Again Evoken makes way for the no less than spectacular The Last of Vitality. The final track gets the crown for most evil track in Evoken history. Itâ€™s hard to explain what this particular track does with you when listening to it. Something just clicks inside you. These 11 minutes will forever leave their marks on you and forever change you as you experience your last moment of vitalityâ€¦
Many bands will lay claim to a "dark" sound. The adjective is used from various types of gothic music, to some strains of electronica, to plain old heavy metal, to extreme metal of course. Many death metal, black metal bands say that their music sounds dark. A good deal of them are correct about their sound. However, with most of extreme metal in general (ranging from black metal, death metal, thrash metal, grindcore, or any combination/variation of those) the darkness is not the point of the music. It is more a point of chaos, speed, sorrow. The darkness is the general atmosphere of the music, but the point of the music is the energy, the pulse, the speed, the agression. Doom metal is a different genre in this respect. An energy drives it, no doubt. However, the tempo of the music demands a message of brooding and darkness. Doom metal is a music of true darkness. Evoken has reached a pinnacle in this sound. Black Sabbath, Trouble, Saint Vitus, Asphyx, Autopsy, Anathmea, Katatonia, Paradise Lost, Shape of Despair, My Dying Bride, Skepticism, Thergothon, these have all been important doom metal bands. Evoken has taken a step above. Evoken with Antithesis of Light, has released in my opinion, not only the best death/doom metal release ever, but the best doom metal release ever.
People will speak of atmosphere in music. They will be right in many cases. This release has the largest and most massive atmosphere I have ever heard. The music sounds like it was played in a lightless abyss, deep and eternal, and once every few thousand years, a ray illuminates some small section of it. The ray stays, and then leaves the denizens of the abyss to curse once more their darkness, and to embrace it finally out of neccessity. That is what this production produces in my brain. Aside from this, it is clean as a bell, and useful for the slow tempo of the album, so that every note played, and every beat struck, may be heard and felt. The songwriting on the album is spectacular as well. Every riff, every tempo change, illustrates clearly the darkness anew, or perhaps shows a brief ray of sorrowful light, such as in the title track at the 6:30 mark roughly.
The guitars on this album don't neccesarily lead all the time. However, the dual guitar work on this album is stunning in illustrating themes. The guitarwork will generally consist of downtuned powerful chords and clean reverbed guitar floating atop the music. Only one tremolo picked riff appears throughout the entire album in "Pavor Nocturnus" around 8:00 . This riff is truely of note, for even though it is tremolo picked, it is lumbering. It is extremely heavy, and almost fills the abyss of production. The guitars are excellent.
The bass does exist in this album. It appears in the intro of some songs, it appears as a solo instrument occasionally. It also helps the downtuned guitars in solidifying the sound.
The drums support the rhythm of his album splendidly, but do go forward to exemplify the themes. The echo of the bass drums pulse through the darkness. They are not by far the most technical of drums, however they do serve an excellent purpose in the album and have a variety of interesting fills.
The keyboards are excellently done. This is generally where the briefs rays of light enter the abyss from. The most sorrowful rays emit at the 6:30 mark in the title track. They also make an excellent intro to said track. They uplift songs, such as in "The Mournful Refusal", or add a cold chilling atmosphere, such as in "Pavour Nocturnus". Excellently done,
Finally, the vocals. In traditional death/doom spirit, the vocals are deep, and like the sound of the album, abyssal. They are deep, and most importantly, full. This seperates them from hundreds of goregrind bands using pitchshitters. They have a full, and strong sound to them, unlike the bullfrog sounds and toilet bowl flushes of goregrind. In addition, some spoken vocals are used. Overall, excellent vocals.
This album is truly atmospheric and dark doom. I reccomend it to anyone who is a fan of slow, emotional, and dark music,
The name itself reeks of sublime and grandeur in a minimalist fashion. Don't be mistaken. There is nothing minimalist about this underrated masterpiece. Just sheer morbid disgustingly beauty.
I was introduced to Evoken via Soulseek where I download Quietus. I was in for a ride. The production was persistent and thunderous, with layers of melody and intricate atmosphere buried amongst the ugly riffs which just exemplifies the concept of aggression. I couldn't get into the album right away, but I was drawn to it by its progressive structures and brooding build ups - like the euphoric percussion/guitar build up in the opening track "In Pestilence, Burning". Slowly yet surely, I was unravelling more and more subtle details and climaxes of each and every song. I was hooked. I bought the CD, along with their entire available catalogue.
And so on, I popped the CD in and was prepared to be underwhelmed because I thought Quietus was a quite a benchmark to be pitted again. Thankfully, I was wrong. Although just like Quietus, Antithesis of Light (AoL) was inaccessible. What it did demand from you was your full-attention to comprehend its subtle details, focused instrumentation and as a whole; its finesse in progression, as individual songs and as an individual album.
One of my complaints about Quietus was its production. Yes it was dense. Yes it was enveloping. But it wasn't organic. It felt rubbery at times, too digital. No it wasn't bad, but it wasn't perfect either. The same reason why I thought Tyranny's Tides of Awakening was woefully overrated (amongst the underground circles) is because of its terrible digital production. Behold! AoL kicks your ass from start to beginning with its majestic production. When "In Solitary Ruin" begins, the opening riff and its accompanying chord-progression just shows what a heavy as fuck sound the album as a whole will embody.
Calling AoL depressive will be cliche. However, calling it an antidote to depression will be far-reaching. No, this album is not all confetti, candy and bubble-gum waterfalls. Far from it. While bands like My Shameful will sadistically bludgeon you, or ones like Esoteric will infuse hopelessness and all that is lost. Evoken will take you through the scenic route of all things wrong in a mortal's life and then tease you with the hope of redemption (the beautiful solo in The Mournful Refusal, build up in Pavor Nocturnus after 7:00 mark) before kicking you out of the mirage (mid-section of Accursed Premonition, ending of The Mournful Refusal). These peaks and troughs of idealist and realist metaphors presented as music is just amazing. I don't care about lyrics. I don't listen to music for its lyrics. Interpreting, "I want to stick this shard of broken glass into my ass" is meaningless and celebrates something that isn't.
This is a demanding album, no doubt. It requires attentive and repetitive listens. I am going to get a lot of flak for this but: this is not fairy floss like Agalloch or Swallow the Sun.
This is by far Evoken's most innovative, not to mention most perfected, piece of material. This album will redefine Death/Doom forever. There is a perfect ballance between the state of depression and the state of agression. In many songs, the AOL presents this mixture and perfects that balance, that I think most Doom bands have never been able to accomplish. There is some pretty fast double bass used on this ablum, fast for Doom metal, that is; and yet the double bass doesn't effect the atmosphere at all.
The darkness weilded by all the instuments manifests an atmosphere as depressive and moving as Tyrrany and Thergothen. However, there is no comparison, because of how advanced the musicianship is in Evoken's release. Evoken waited an extended period of time to put this out after their release of 'Quietus' and the improvements here are evinced without hindrance. First of all, there are some rhythyms on here that you just don't find on Doom Metal releases, such as the unexpected time changes that sprout in and out of the soungs while remaining cohesive within the music. Usually, Doom is not so advanced, but unlike most bands who show their musical advancement on successive albums, Evoken has retained: 1) Originallity 2) Their individual sound 3) Diverisity in rhythym, tempo, chord progression, and ambience. That is another thing that makes this album so superb, is the ambience. The keyboards lay the foudation for the intricacies of the guitars, bass, and drums and even though there are the above mentioned diversities, the ambience in the songs moves cohesively. So when one reaches the end of a song one can recognize that there was a building atmosphere.
The balance of depression and agression is not the only one on the album; the one that is far more appealing is the balance of the instruments. The production is, in my oppinion unparralelled by other Doom releases. This gives the chance for individual instruments to have their own voice while the collection of the instruments simultaneously creates the collective voice, and the entire atmosphere. The individual voices of the instuments are interesting, because you can hear each one, and each one has their own aspect of ambience, giving way to a concept never tackled, to my knowledge, in Doom. And I love that even the bass can be heard as a seperate entity.
Each song feels like a story, and is executed perfectly. This is more than just another Death/Doom album, this is THE Death/Doom album. I personally love minimalism, as any good doomster should, but AOL gives the listener a true journey in atmospheric depression and darkness while developing diverisity in musicality, a feat few Doom Metal bands have even endevored. This is something for not just the doomsters, but for any fan of dark music. If you are a doomster, there is no question that the album has everything you want and more.
As the title states, this is the best doom metal album I've heard. Granted, Esoterc's "Metamorphogenesis", Mourning Beloveth's "My Sullen Sulcus" or Shape of Despair's first album are almost equally excellent but unlike Esoteric (which is more experimental and psychodelic) and Mourning Beloveth (more doom/death) this one is pure DOOM, so the title also reflects the purity of aesthetics, in a way.
The sound of this album is absolutely perfect. It's heavy, crushing and oppressive, but at the same time very spacious and has space to breathe. The production is crystal clear so you can make out all the instruments easily. The drum sound is especially fitting. The compositions are based on crushing guitar riffs (with, for example, a fast tremolo-picked guitar riff in a black metal vein on "Pavor Nocturnus" and a solo on the title track, thrown in for variety) but in many places the main role is played by a clean reverbed guitar, which adds to the atmosphere and spaciousness. The drums are more varied than on your usual doom metal album (not to mention a funeral doom album), using double bass in a very interesting way, and there are even blastbeats on "In Solitary Ruin". The vocals are Evoken's trademark deep growls and suit the music perfectly. Some whispers and shrieks in a higher register ale also present ("The Mournful Refusal"). Keyboards and bass are just 'there', coming into prominence only from time to time (e.g. the beginning of "Pavor Nocturnus").
All the above elements, together with the occassional cello part, contribute to the overwhelming atmosphere of this album. Its title summarizes it perfectly, it's the "Antithesis of Light", pure blackness, with no trace of anything remotely positive. The album is really really crushing, devastating, powerful - this needs to be emphasized. Sometimes the music is very minimal, as towards the end of "In Solitary Ruin" (where it also gets unbelieveably heavy). The tracks often mix heavy parts with sudden transitions to minimalistic ones, with clean guitars, 'whispered' vocals, and a lot of space, which then build up to another crushing part. I must say that this method is very effective.
Even though there are blastbeats present on this album (odd sounding, admittedly), the songs never get really fast (however, there are relatively fast parts in the title track, with double bass drumming), plodding along monumentally at a typical funeral doom pace, which is of course a veeeery slow one.
As to standout tracks, I love "In Solitary Ruin" and the title track, which kicks off with a stunning part after the keyboard intro, giving place to yet another excellent motif, probably the fastest one on the album.
Bottomline: An essential doom metal album.
So, go get this amazing album!!!