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Black Light Era > Ruins of Treason > Reviews
Black Light Era - Ruins of Treason

Recreating classic melodic 1990s-era BM with sharpness and frenzy - 82%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, January 12th, 2022
Written based on this version: 2021, Digital, Independent (Bandcamp)

Recently formed in Le Mans, in northwest France in 2021, Black Light Era is the melodic old-skool BM solo project of Cryo who also masterminds another solo project, Eminentia Tenebris. I reviewed Eminentia Tenebris's first album "Whirlwind of Dark Times" a couple of years ago and while I didn't rate it highly, I'm happy to see Cryo still plying his BM trade, putting his heart and soul into the music he loves. Black Light Era also has plenty of atmosphere but the music comes with a clearer, sharper and perhaps more militant sound; the tone might not be quite as rich and mysterious but the aggression and icy cold feel are very prominent. Here Cryo concentrates on themes of darkness and death with less emphasis on nature than with Eminentia Tenebris.

Synthesisers are as much part of BLE's arsenal as they are with Eminentia Tenebris, adding a frigid and alienated tone to the shrill sharp, almost knife-edge pointillist tremolo guitars as the music goes on the attack in the most instrumental opener "Enter the Black Light Era". We settle into a much more melodic and conventional song structure in second song "For I to Shine Again" which recalls 1990s-era second-wave BM (parts of the album are very reminiscent of Filosofem-era Burzum) though there may also be a touch of 1970s prog-rock influence in the guitar sound and some of the synthesiser layers. The riffs and synth melodies, some of them symphonic in tone, are very distinct and rock-out catchy, and with each hearing seem even more swirly and psychedelic. The gruff shouty vocals seem to be coming from a coffin or a deep underground mine shaft, they are a bit far back in the mix – they could be more upfront to give the music an even more savage and ferocious delivery.

As the album continues, each song boasts its own mix of straight-out melodic BM and more coldly atmospheric (and sometimes more noisy) music together with clear riffs and tunes but always with that insanely high-pitched sharp steely tremolo guitar sound. "No One Can Be Healed" has a more depressive mood counterbalanced by the vocals which become even more feral and deranged than before. The first four tracks are tight and punchy pieces and any one of them could be singles material if Cryo was thinking of pitching to a slightly more mainstream BM audience. The title track especially is a dense and surprisingly complex work of epic atmospheric scope as Cryo's vocals and the guitars reach out and almost exceed their limits. Its climax can be heroic if tragic in mood and feel.

The second half of the album features fewer though longer tracks with more chaotic music that still reaches epic proportions. The guitars have a richer, more ringing and hypnotic tone and there are moments in songs like "It Must Come to End" where the tremolo guitars dominate and time stops and stands still while the sound reverberates through the album and your head. These moments really hold you spellbound with their tragic majesty. Closing track "Pestilent Ritual" is a demented track of insane industrial percussion thunder and equally deranged singing. The guitars weave their intricate spells, thin as spider gossamer yet just as strong, through the music while the sighing synth drone wash adds its own layer of suffocating hell.

BLE adds little new to retro-1990s melodic / atmospheric BM but the project does bring a sharpness and a ferocity to its music with the vocals perhaps being its most outstanding element. Cryo shows off very good song-writing and technical playing skills across the album. Melodic BM with a Filosofem-era Burzum sound, confident and savage vocals, sharp guitars that increasingly become more resonant and hypnotic, an extreme frenzied approach, and all delivered with precision and sophistication: what's not to like here?

While perhaps it's understandable that the range of instruments is minimal to highlight the song-writing and musical and recording arrangements, it'd be worthwhile for Cryo to add acoustic instruments and/or digital electronics to the music on future work to make it stand out more against other BM acts also using a mix of guitars and synthesisers in recreating retro melodic / atmospheric BM hearkening back to the 1980s or 1990s. As it is, BLE's style needs an extra edge, maybe in its style or sound, or in its recreation of classic melodic BM, over the rest of a scene brimming with far more than its fair share of great BM bands in France.