A lot of people (including many of my friends) have a very difficult time enjoying music with an extremely low production quality (in other words, the album sounds like crap). There are people out there that actually love the low-quality sound of a lot of black metal that is out there; I can say that there are many instances where I feel that the music wouldn’t sound as good if the production quality was better and less raw. When you hear black metal fans use the word “raw” when talking about music, the term refers to the extreme lack of editing done to the original recordings. An Alignment of Dead Stars is a perfect example of a “raw” black metal record. One of my favorite types of music, ambient black, is almost always consisted of very low quality and raw recordings. I only know of one ambient black artist that actually puts some time into the mixing and production of his music and that is Elffor.
The sound that Drowning the Light creates is a modernized traditional black metal sound that has the production quality of a Velvet Cacoon record. I think it’s because of the raw sound of the music that the majority of the people I know of that have even heard of Drowning the Light are people that pretty much only listen to black metal. Just look at a bunch of the profiles on Spirit of Metal that have added Drowning the Light to their bands list, you will see that the other bands on their list consist of mainly other underground black metal bands.
I’m mentioning that purely as an observation. I’m not saying that to bash or support Drowning the Light. Currently, I only have three albums by these guys, and it’s hard to imagine that they could have anything better because the three I have sound pretty much the same. Those albums are The Blood of the Ancients, An Alignment of Dead Stars, and The Serpents Reign. The reason why I gave this album one more point than the others is that the vocals sound a lot better. The vocalist seems to be putting a lot more power and emotion into his vocals as well as in the rest of the music.
This album reminds me somewhat of Woods of Desolation’s 2008 debut because there are several songs that have parts where there is just an out of tune acoustic guitar playing a melodic lick to give the music some atmosphere and set a certain tone that can’t really be put into words. The song where this is most notable is Dragged to an Ocean Grave. There are also a couple of short acoustic interludes sprinkled here and there like The Flame and Drifting Away in a Sea of Sorrow (which is a beautiful track).
This record is one of those that I think is best for background music; mainly because the album drags out and sounds like one long song (not necessarily a bad thing). I’m saying that because it’s really hard for me to just focus on the music for the whole album; it’s not one of those albums that sucks me in and takes me away from reality like some albums do. So when I just put all three of the albums I have on shuffle, you can’t really tell the difference between all of the songs except for when you hear the vocals from The Serpents Reign that sound like a cat choking on a duck.
Although it may seem like I’ve been ripping on this album for most of the review, it’s not a bad album at all and is something you should sit down and listen to. But rather than it sucking you in, it creates a mood inside you that’s quite relaxing after a while. I would like to see Drowning the Light do something different and a little more interesting. Other than that, there isn’t really much else I can think of to say about this album other than I would give this 14/20.