Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Sunlight's Bane - The Blackest Volume: Like All The Earth Was Buried


Tracklist:

1. Praise The Venom Shield
2. Begrudging Soul
3. From Heaven Wept
4. Cursed Diminished Years
5. I Am The Cold, Harsh Whispers In Hell
6. Dance Of Thorns
7. The Blessed Ivory Tongue
8. No Taste More Bitter
9. With Fear, This Love Is Given
10. Came No Dawn
11. To Whom I Await

In times of need we often find ourselves reaching for things that aren't necessarily good for us. There are healthier mediums to turn to though and music, oft extreme, is one of them. Michigan's Sunlight's Bane write and perform music that would be the soundtrack to ones darkest hour and their most recent full-length is no different. Starting out as Traitor in 2011, the band changed their name and released full-length/compilation called "Antiquated Chapters" in 2015, swiftly followed by a very well-received split 7" with UK noise-makers Geist last September. “TBVLATEWB” (as it's known for short) was released via Innerstrength Records in February and Sunlight's Bane followed it up with a recent UK tour alongside their split-mates. I'm a little late to the wake with this one!

There’s a lot more bitterness to Sunlight’s Bane than on their previous split with Geist and opening song Praise The Venom Shield is a grinding, heaving slab of black metal/hardcore that slays in the same ferocious way as Gaza and Trap Them. The song is raging with metallic guitars, walls of feedback and gloomy bass, powerful drums and suitably rabid screams. Begrudging Soul begins in much the same way as before, slowing to more of a menacing crawl in the verses. It’s the riffs that provide that feeling of changing tempo and they’re pretty effective too. That change in pace stretches the song out but also makes it more claustrophobic. 

The dark and dank atmosphere on “TBVLATEWB” is not harmed by the shift in dynamics, as Sunlight’s Bane switch back into full-force mode on From Heaven Wept. It’s a shorter song as you would’ve probably guessed but it pulls no punches and as it fades, the feedback leads you into Cursed Diminished Years. The screams seem even more emotive and angry and the mix of low/high-pitched vocal tones sit in the mix this time, allowing the instrumentation to come forwards a bit more. The recording and production job certainly seems to have captured the band at their most unforgiving. The album isn’t super-clear and nor should it be. It’s honest and desperately heavy. 

Amongst the frenetic pace, Sunlight’s Bane is able to write songs that are more controlled, without being less technical. I Am The Cold, Harsh Whispers In Hell describes itself aptly. It’s a song filled with everything from doom/death introspection to grinding intensity and some of the lowest vocal bellows you’re likely to hear. The minimalist approach they take during the opening bars of Dance of Thorns is decidedly sinister. Just guitar/bass and vocals alone that seem to build an overwhelming feeling of nervous expectation as you wait for things to explode. The song doesn’t explode into the wave of noise that you might be expecting but it does build to a noisy crescendo, which is just as dramatic. 

The off-kilter drumming at the beginning of The Blessed Ivory Tongue throws you off slightly as at times it’s a straight up punk-groove and at others it’s almost tech-like, but it goes onto reveal a death march rooted in black metal hatred. Sunlight’s Bane return to more grinding territory on No Taste More Bitter and at times nod towards CTTTOAFF. The subtle intricacies within the music itself become clearer and more obvious here, which are only made better by the songwriting and restrained delivery. Three songs from the end and Sunlight’s Bane go all cinematic with the first of two eight+ minute numbers, With Fear, This Love Is Given. The reason I used cinematic to describe it is because it has a post-metal edge, which is subtle but mixes well with the black metal backbone of the song. It’s both stark and life-affirming at the same time (sorry if that wasn’t the effect you were going for guys!). 

After that, penultimate song Came No Dawn is a bit of a shock to the system as it begins, only for the band to arrest that shock later on with a section filled with introspection and spoken word vocals. The feedback and foreboding atmosphere remains but it seems tempered somehow before the three-minute mark hits and the melody is partly swallowed by the collective release of the full band. To Whom I Await is the second eight+ minute song I was talking about earlier (and indeed the last) and it has a very different feel to that of With Fear, This Love Is Given. It has more bite and anger flowing through it, as cymbals crash and bass rumbles around the roars. The guitars sit deeper when all is at full flow, though they add heft where it’s needed and when they are allowed space, they help paint an acrid atmosphere. 

As with every release that I write about it’s hard to portray a sound or a feeling accurately in black and white, so as the screeching feedback of the album closer fades to reveal a final bass-lead passage, I leave to you to interpret the record as you see fit. Listen to it, soak it up and give it your full attention. That’s the only way you’ll be able truly appreciate how good it is. 

Stream and download the record directly via the band below:-



Physical cd copies are available through Innerstrength Records here - https://innerstrengthrecords.bandcamp.com/merch

Sunlight's Bane - https://www.facebook.com/sunlightsbane/
Innerstrength Records - https://www.facebook.com/innerstrengthrecords/

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