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When thine eyes blacken - 87%

Nihil Seitan, September 22nd, 2017
Written based on this version: 2009, CD, Self Mutilation Services (Limited edition)

DSBM has always been a point of controversy for its thousands of worthless bands who just suddenly decide to record a piece on how their girlfriend pissed them off and throw an album based on their one-night relationship and how it went wrong, and in this process, they show us some important facts that have now become characteristics of the so-called dsbm genre: They have absolutely no remarkable musicianship and play some chords, just similar to old-school black metal bands that they have heard in their youth, or are still teenagers who have recently found those bands. The next problem is the recording quality, which is no better than listening to the sound of a thousand tortured men whose penises are being cut off by a thousand jigsaws. And last but foremost, are the hilarious lyrics written and sung in many of these bands’ songs; lyrics about all kinds of miseries a teenager can face while growing up and suicidal thoughts caused by them.

But still, there a few number of bands who are trying, or tried so hard in an ocean of teen penises to show us true faces of despair, anguish, solitude, melancholy, and depression; to show what it really feels like to be alone in a world of shadows, thoughts of death, and looking deep into this universe and finding nothing beyond infinity.

When Mine Eyes Blacken, a one-man effort of its mastermind, the mysterious Mort, to bring a sense of poetry to the nothingness of life and the beauty in death, is one of those projects worth more than most of dsbm bands, if not nearly all of them, and it beautifully creates a picture of solace after years of suffering and sorrow through its 48 minute runtime. And how much it saddens me when I remember that it was, is, and will be the last WMEB album forever, after every listening I give to this collection of sadness and despair.

There are only four tracks here, yet enough to target your mind with a flood of negativity. The opening track, Secluded within Sorrow, Solace Awaits, fades in with a heavy and slow atmosphere, and seconds later, Mort’s nightmare begins and some of the most depressing vocals –better to say screams- of dsbm history are heard in the next 40 minutes of your life. I am not a fan of screams, for they usually make me laugh due to the unreal sense of depression in them and therefore ruin the whole music experience for me. But here, Mort’s screams are just haunting. They have something more than a darkness in them and belong somewhere deep within Mort’s shattered soul. They are simply voices of a dead man wishing to find an eternal solace. And now I can understand why he is Mort; for he truly has an essence of death in his voice and his music.

The first track continues, with a monotony in instruments and an eternal pain in vocals, and it’s basically the main and only formula in WMEB music. But not only it is not a bad thing, it brings the perfect atmosphere to the experience and puts the listener in a nihilistic trance-like mood. But for those who don’t enjoy long monotonies, the good news is that Mort has successfully managed to keep the listener’s attention by adding different passages through the songs, especially on the second and third tracks, which are the longest ones in the album. These passages include some really nice arpeggios and drum fillings which really make an outstanding job on keeping the atmosphere dark and gloomy.

Then comes the best track on this album, Neath Pale Stars, and what the hell? This makes me want to cry. Arpeggios create some really uncomfortable moments; first for their truly deep sound and second, for a very simple but ruining error that was made in the production process, which is looping them. Just when they have taken you in between Mort’s dark world, the reverb suddenly dies and the arpeggio repeats again. It is not that much of a big problem but for me, it is enough to ruin some of those feelings I want to experience while listening. Apart from that, Neath Pale Stars is the purest diamond shaped by WMEB and along with The Light of Those Who Failed makes a strong mark on the whole dsbm philosophy and existence. Memorable riffs, touching arpeggios (minus the looping disaster), blasting and sometimes droning drums, painful vocals, and poetic lyrics make this track absolutely memorable and good to know is that this beautifully disastrous experience continues in The Light of Those Who Failed, which is basically the 20 minute version of Neath Pale Stars.

In the end, I will point to some particular elements on this album. Despite most dsbm bands, WMEB has a very clear and loud bass which is also played nicely and totally fits the atmosphere and somehow gives a deeper feeling to the whole sound. I don’t think it was an error, but I guess that Mort wanted to show the audience that unlike other bands in the field, he actually knows how to play and record his instruments. And all I can say is that he’s been successful. Lyrics, of course, are another strong point on this album and make WMEB separate from its mates in the genre. They have beautifully pictured the negative emotions and the will to find peace in death and nothingness in the most poetic sense one has ever done in black metal history. And to make it short, I encourage you to read the lyrics before listening; to know what you are going for and enjoy it in full conscience. The only negative points on this album, are the looping errors in arpeggio parts as I’ve mentioned before, and somehow boring riffs and melodies on the first track, which is saved mostly by Mort’s great vocal performance. Except that, everything is there for you to hear and cry and die a million times.

It’s sad that bands like this split too soon and leave this poor deformed genre to drown in its own ocean of worthless sounds; but all in all these bands will flicker in this endless darkness forever.

Recommended tracks: Neath Pale Stars, The Light of Those Who Failed

Suicidal black metal for bedtime - 94%

BlackMetal213, August 9th, 2015

When Mine Eyes Blacken was a very short-lived DSBM project. Formed in 2008 and after releasing this self-titled debut in 2009, the plug would be pulled on this project, erasing any hope for a future release. It seems like the thing to do for a lot of DSBM projects is to release only one album and then call it quits. I'm not sure as to why this is but even with only this one full-length, WMEB has made a definite mark on the genre of DSBM. This is one of the saddest, most droning albums to come out of the genre in its entire history. I may be a bit biased due to my love for this style of music but this album really is something else, and I believe it to be essential listening.

The guitar tone on this album is extremely thin and raw, however, unlike a lot of other bands in this field, the bass is extremely thick. This is a rather investing anomaly that still surprises me after hearing this album four years after hearing it for the first time. A lot of these bands mute the bass completely out of the music or even go as far as to not utilize the bass guitar whatsoever. WMEB treats the bass quite different. It is at times even louder than the electric guitar. For example, take the song "Secluded Within Sorrow, Solace Awaits". The bass is extremely loud in the mix, and underneath, we hear the guitar riffs following the pattern of the bass. Usually, because the bass isn't loud, the guitars take precedence and the bass follows their pattern. However, on this album, specifically this first song, the bass is "the man". It sets the path for the music and the guitars and drums follow. "Beneath Pale Stars" shows the guitar playing a bigger role, especially with its melancholic clean break, but the bass is still quite high in the mix, and because of this, WMEB has created a very unorthodox DSBM record.

Mort is obviously an extremely talented multi-instrumentalist. He is the only member of the project, and does everything by himself here. The drums are not made up of constant blastbeats, but they also aren't played extremely slow throughout the entire 48-minute runtime either. There is a healthy amount of double bass and drum fills on this album. This helps add more variation throughout the guitar and bass driven ambient black metal fog we experience here. The songs are all long, especially the 20 plus minute long "Within Deaths Embrace". So, with the fairly varied drumming, the music continues to stay interesting, even on the album's longer tracks. The drums also sound amazing and are mixed perfectly within the music. They are not too loud, but aren't quiet either.

Mort definitely is in pain, or at least he was when recording this album. His vocals are mixed somewhat low, but are full of sorrow and despair. He sounds like he is buried alive in a coffin, trying to scream loud enough to be heard above ground. However, because he is buried too deep, no one can hear him. So he is left to rot away and die underneath the earth, where he will decay into nothingness. His vocals could have been mixed slightly higher here, but really, this is also somewhat of an asset to the music. It adds that feeling of decay and the distance of being buried alive. While it hurts the music somewhat, it also enhances it, which is truly something else. Mort does not utilize the traditional black metal rasp, rather the howl-like vocals common with a lot of other DSBM acts.

Sure, the bass is a bit too prevalent in the mix and the guitars could have been louder. Sure, the vocals could have been louder as well. However, I feel if anything were to change in the sound of this album, it could genuinely hurt the music and the atmosphere. This is a very unique DSBM album and it is often overlooked and left behind in the shadows. It definitely deserves to be heard by more fans so the genre and I'm sure a lot of people would enjoy it if they gave it a chance. So go ahead, let this album invade your ears as you drift away into a dark slumber. What have you got to lose, except your happiness and sanity?

Emotional, haunting, powerful, one of the best - 100%

dragoth, December 7th, 2014

Darkness, despair, anguish, pain and depression, these are five emotions that When Mine Eyes Blacken convey with ease and beauty across the four tracks that make up the first and sadly, only album that they ever released. The solo project of sole member Mort, the self titled release of project 'When Mine Eyes Blacken' is a simple yet elegant take on the genre DSBM.

Across the four tracks there is very little technicality or flourishing instrumentation, the guitars combine both clean and harsh sounds, but tend to stick to mid pace chords and tremolo picking, such as on 'Neath Pale Stars', simple yet effectively put together enough to create a soundscape of sad tones and progressions. Whilst no new ground is broken on this album, what is done is effectively piece together the good bits of DSBM as a genre, and take it to its most basic format, and the result is astounding. The drums, the main other instrument employed, is varied, yet simple again, double bass work is employed throughout the album, and the patterns and rhythms do vary, though rarely are complex. This is album is very much simplistic, but well thought out and pieced together. The drums do fulfill another purpose, they employ a lot of fill work, likely to create a new sound, breaking out of the repetitive style the guitars employ, much like early Burzum, riffs are repeated and progressions tend to last a while before turning into a new one. The songs do vary across, whilst 'Secluded Within Sorrow...' is very slow and monotonous, hypnotic in its stylings, following track 'Neath Pale Stars' is much faster, more traditional black metal style, with the DSBM style still prominent in its choice of chords and vocals.

Speaking of the vocals, Mort employs a very high style, similar to that employed by fellow DSBM players 'Thy Light', the vocals feature a lot of reverb and appear distant and mysterious, they style itself fits perfectly with the music been played, the voice sounds pained and full of the emotion trying to be conveyed through the music. They are not understandable at all, the lyrics will have to be looked up, which is definitely worth doing, as they aren't standard for the genre at all, rather than going on about suicide and self harm all the time like others, they instead are almost philosophical, and poetic in the way they are written, take the lyrics to 'The Light of Those Who Failed':

Lurking Within the depths of despair
Crawling, reaching towards the light
Following trails of confusion
Pacing in the footsteps of pestilence
The light of those who failed shines brightly
A beacon... of nothingness'

Clearly thought has been put into the lyrical aspects, and stand out amongst those who share the genre.

The only issue with this album, one that I don't personally hold, but others do, is the song lengths; with four songs, each over 7 minutes, and the longest been over 20, this may be too long for some listeners, and makes it hard to determine ones place in the album, but for me it holds no issue. I find the album flows perfectly, and should definitely be enjoyed as a whole, rather than in separate elements, as it becomes one long and perfect piece.

What has been created here, for me, is one of the best DSBM albums ever written, it's powerful, emotional, haunting and dark, whilst at the same time, beautiful to listen too and hypnotic to a level that many bands strive to achieve, but few sadly ever do. I would definitely recommend any DSBM fans, if not black metal fans in general check it out, it will be a life changer.

Originally posted here: http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/59760/When-Mine-Eyes-Blacken-When-Mine-Eyes-Blacken/

Screaming Alone In The Dark - 80%

dontcountonit, February 7th, 2011

When Mine Eyes Blacken is a depressive black metal project from New Zealand. This is, in other words, a one man band formed by Mort. This is not his only depressive project out there, but it is one of the ones with better quality.
Like I already said, this is one of only many projects. His other "bands" include: Exiled From Light, Beyond Light, Serpenthrone, Winds of Sorrow, Schizophrenia, and Einsamkeit. Like what was stated above already, they all play a form of the same type of music found on this album, depressive black metal.

Nothing on this album is particularly different from other DBM bands, but the overall sound of the band is a little bit more "metal," so to speak. What this means here is that there are moments of more traditional black metal in the songs. Beneath Pale Stars showcases this by using more traditional double-bass work on the drums and more tremolo picking. While this is not all that impressive in the long run, it is a little bit more metal than some bands in the genre.
The drums on the album are probably what makes this album a bit different from others putting out similar work. The drums here exhibit more fills than 90% of the bands in the same genre do. This breaks up the monotony of a record like this, which prides itself of more repetitive cycles of melancholic guitar parts.
Most of what you will hear from the guitars is very clean and sorrowful on here, the entire opening track, Secluded Within Sorrow, Solace Awaits, is done in this format. While Beneath Pale Stars has more distortion to it, giving it a little more edge than the rest of the songs. But the guitars on here are mainly used like in other bands of the genre, to create a hypnotic type of vibe and a dark atmosphere.

The vocals on here are probably similar, if not the same, to what you'll get on another record by similar bands. The majority of vocals are shrieks that have a lot of reverb on them, making them sound all distant and creepy to people who don't know about this style of black metal. The vocals don't vary themselves a lot, you might have some screams or murmuring/speaking/talking within this record but that's about as varied as they get.
The lyrics from what Mort is screaming about, if you can understand them, isn't all that bad considered to most of the bands within DBM. The lyrics don't really go on and on about this guy wanting to die or commit suicide or kill other people, he isn't even really complaining at all. Most of the lyrics on this album are almost poetic at times, yes they are dark, and depending on the person, depressing, but they feature a tone and phrasing to them that many "bands" don't have.
The songs on this record are long in length. Featuring only 4 songs, 2 of them exceed 10 minutes, one going just over 20. Depending on the person listening, this could be good or bad, those who enjoy longer songs could easily find themselves entranced by these tracks, while those who don't will find these songs to be boring and monotonous.

Overall, this is not the worst DBM album ever made, but it's not the best. Those who do enjoy the style will find points that stand out more than others and points that are more obvious to them than me. If you're a fan of this genre, you either probably already have this or should check it out, if you aren't a casual listener of this style, this would be one of the better ones to take a look at.

Highlights: Beneath Pale Stars, Within Deaths Embrace

Originally written for:
http://dontcountonitreviews.blogspot.com

Quintessence Of Sorrow - 100%

PrincipleOfEVIL, November 16th, 2009

When Mine Eyes Blacken is a depressive black metal band from New Zealand. With such a poetic name, you would expect something ornate with orchestrated embellishments or whatnot, but while being very beautiful, this is basic black metal in its essence. This is just what makes this album special. There are too many depressive black metal bands, and too many of them are bedroom projects without any redeeming value. Thankfully, this band (composed of the sole member Mort, who is in a dozen of atmospheric/ambient/depressive black metal bands) is a gem. A rare gem, indeed.

Comprised of four long songs clocking at 48 minutes, with the shortest being 7:28, we are dealing with a standard atmospheric/depressive black metal release. Indeed. There is nothing spectacular here, absolutely nothing. No technicality with the instruments, no vocal bravuras, nor compositional complexity, and not much originality. Everything seems like it is heard before. But, the work of an artist is different from the work of others. While all elements are standard to the core the artistic result is not standard at all, due to Mort's brilliant musical ideas.

Isn't the true purpose of this kind of black metal to be emotionally heavy and imposing the most impending scenarios of doom upon the helpless listener? Isn't the true spirit of this kind of music to be a dirge-like dark lullaby which repeats itself ad nauseam until the listener's brain is turned to mush? Of course it is. And this self-titled debut album manages in all its tasks. It is emotionally that heavy, that all human misery will wreak upon you and you will be caressed by despair a long time after having finished with listening to it, only to be again drawn to press the play button, seduced by the dark appeal of utter blindness?

All this is done only using the traditional metal instruments, that means – no keys, with a production fitting the musical ideas – pretty low-fi, but everything is clearly audible, with a perfect mix for this kind of music. This album begins with clean guitars that are soon joined by quiet drums, but when the guitars join, the true spirit f this album is revealed. Riffs are melodic and beautiful, always supported by the bass. The highlight of this album is the bass. Together with the guitars, it weaves its own spell of doom, lulling the listener with a feel of false security, because, as soon as you hear the vocals, which are hopeless, disheartened, naturally distorted banshee wails evoking the quintessence of sorrow, everything will be slowly fading out, with no hope of returning to the light. But, the drums on this records are real drums, not drum machine is used, and the drums are very good. Varying the rhythm frequently, the emulate a wavy cardiogram that goes up and down, getting the impression of a heart that struggles to continue to beat; once brutal, with a pounding double-bass, in other instances only cymbals are heard. And often interesting fills break the repetitiveness of the music adding the much needed variation.

Lyrics are indeed poetic, as the name of the band implies. With song titles like ''Secluded Within Sorrow, Solace Awaits'' we get the impression an issue is seen out from the dark. ''Beneath Pale Stars'' is the overture for the final show, as ''The Light of Those Who Failed'' shines like a beacon for us all. But, as implacable as it is, we shall end ''Within Death's Embrace'', sooner or later. The beauty of these lyrics are their open-endedeness, which doesn't imply suicidal mambo-jumbo with ''I slit my wrists etc'', but present us a reflective view of negative emotions, which could, but we are not sure do they end this way, but most likely won't, because we have been touched by hope, however miserable it was. Also, death can also be spiritual, and I'm pretty sure ''this'' death is spiritual, not physical. Again, the good part is that we don't know, and as art is subject to various interpretations, which makes it art, anyway, we will conclude – this is a piece of art, because of that.

Now, with the bad points, if they can be considered as such, due to the nature of this musical genre. The music is highly repetitive, that much repetitive that it is possible to loose track of which song is playing, which showcases the second problem – everything sounds too similar (but, with repeated listens shall clear itself, somewhat). But, as we are dwelling within a particular genre of music, the only flaws of this record are also its highlights. The album is best taken as a whole, because it is an entirety, which loses its beauty divided. Also, I will warn yo that it will take time to truly capture the essence of this album, but once you do, you will be greatly rewarded.

Thus, with a such paradox I leave to the listener to find its way towards light when his/her eyes blacken, as it is the only possible way, only will I mention that this album was the first atmospheric/depressive band I ever listened and it slowly compelled me to discover other bands, as well as other works of Mort, who is a true black metal genius and I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to delve into his amazing dark atmospheric work.

When Mine Eyes Blacken. - 80%

Perplexed_Sjel, May 20th, 2009

Another expedition into the world of depressive black metal. Thankfully, this time round, Mordheim are nowhere to be found. With depressive black metal dominating the black metal scene in places like Europe and North America, it was surprising to see that lowly New Zealand are looking to get in on the action too. This country, not famous for its raging wild black metal scene, is home to the poetically named When Mine Eyes Blacken, a one man band from Auckland, to be precise. Mort, a fairly typical black metal pseudonym, is the man behind the music and is also the leading man behind many ambient, or depressive black metal bands in the southern hemisphere, including Exiled From Light, a band whom I am particularly impressed with, having heard one of their full-lengths through Hypnotic Dirge Records. Considering he’s involvement with many bands, most notably one man bands, one might be forgiven for thinking this was a straight-out-of-the-bedroom black metal musician, but his music consists of more class than that.

His performance here, which is what we will be evaluating, isn’t the most grandiose from this maligned sub-genre. Bands like Australian outfit Austere still draw in much of the crowds in this part of the world, but I don’t imagine it will be long until Mort is discovered for his obvious talents in creating a world of his own, within a sub-genre that is usually outclassed by other notable sub-genres within the black metal scene, or in a general sense. When Mine Eyes Blacken are typical of the scene and don’t really spring any surprises on the avid listener. Having said that, this is an enjoyable piece, which consists of some glorious ambient moments, interfacing his two most loved sub-genres; ambient and depressive. This band does seem to like to confront both genres and mesh the characteristics of the two together by producing highly atmospheric songs that usually play out at varying tempos, each as crushing as the next. From the slow bass and percussion (though sections like the hi-hat and snares do pick up the pace considerably for the percussion, giving a nice mixture to the percussions game), to the tremolo guitars and the mixed performances in terms of variation of speeds.

When Mine Eyes Blacken are productive when slow, filling the atmospheres with an electricity unparalleled to most of the bands within the same field of expertise and are emotionally charged, swiping furiously at the listener with sharp guitar textures and low lying bass movements beneath the surface of the special soundscapes, when the tempos pick up and become suggestive, forcing When Mine Eyes Blacken to sound as if they’re capable of producing electrifying moments at any given speed, with any given instrument (though the bass is, in particular, key to this idea). The long and usually slow paced nature of the songs really affords Mort a lot of room to play with as the songs wind down and twist to contort their shapes like a tree bending its boughs towards the bare Earth in search of life, love and affection - which is nowhere to be found. He uses ambiance very well, with long passages on guitar (though not strictly solos as ‘Beneath Pale Stars’ will suggest), supported by emotive bass lines that can tend to sound a little flat on occasions, but generally speaking, the surprisingly audible bass is a nice inclusion into the varied and interesting mixture that Mort provides us with.

Though the production does limit the appeal of the bass, it does allow areas like the vocals, which are typically rasping, but echo out over the vast soundscapes that conjure images of desolate landscapes and endless visions of space and unlovable eternity, stretching out over the instrumentation, showering it in interesting concepts and visual manifestations, enough room to possess the listener with the emotions and feelings that this record represents ever so well. Sorrow, pain and injustice ring out over the soundscapes, hovering like a bad smell in the air, we breathe in the toxic fumes, taking in the aura and essential emotive structures with consummate ease. The production is good enough to suggest this isn’t just another bedroom band, but is slightly more professional than that, thankfully. There are, as always negatives, but they’re hard to pin point since the sound is enjoyable enough to allow the band, and Mort, to get away with it. His grasp of the sub-genre that is depressive black metal is sufficient enough to suggest whatever negatives there are attached to this piece should be taken lightly, and with a pinch of salt, not dissected and ridiculed like some bands within this genre deserved in public, like an olden day hanging, or execution.

Negatives like the overly long songs, which perhaps could have been condensed into smaller one’s, giving the listener time to digest each element without having to resort to listening back over the long and rather dubious soundscapes that unfold similarly throughout the records duration. The fact that the record is similar throughout, in terms of song writing, construction and textures, the songs feel like they truly need to be shorter. Its not a passing thought, but a future concern. Aside from some niggling doubts, When Mine Eyes Blacken are inoffensive and mildly entertaining, despite the obvious connotations of depression and dark emotions that the record is telling like a bleak bedtime story. The vocals, which resonate alongside the instrumentation, do a good enough job of preserving the effectively bleak soundscapes and atmospherics. This is a fine example of the epitome of this Kiwi band, whom serve their purpose well. This self-titled record is better than your average one, but not good enough to change the outlook of the leader board within the grand scheme of things. Decent.