Friday, March 30, 2012

Waning - The Human Condition

I’m one of the few people that will jump on and listen to every new black metal band and/or record I hear about. There have been several instances that have left me disappointed, but there have been plenty of extremely impressive new black metal artists that have been surfacing over the past four years. The best so far is Waning. For those of you that are familiar with the modern thrash metal scene (particularly Exodus) might find the album title extremely similar to Exodus’ 2010 album. That was probably what initially caught my eye along with the fact that these guys play extremely melodic black metal. A quick overview of the album for those that prefer short summaries rather than full reviews would be that this is a pretty slow black metal record that has an extremely melodic and atmospheric DEPRESSIVE vibe to it. This record holds very abstract guitar chords that have a lot of edge but an inconceivable amount of beauty. The band’s youth and inexperience does show up in some places, but the overall concept of the music is beyond professional and mature.

This band is actually quite similar to the depressive black metal pioneers, Shining. Shining is the band that first comes to mind when I listen to this record, but not the Opeth-like acoustic parts. The Shining material that Waning reminds me of is the really high-quality, bass-filled depressive parts with emotion that holds the listener down like lead anchors on a paper boat. The guitar distortion is very clean and fuzzy, giving the guitars a soft and gentle sound that simply weaves through the sound in a thin layer. There aren’t very many other records that I can think of off the top of my head that have this kind of soft and fuzzy distortion; of course except for certain Xasthur albums and many other depressive black metal records.

But although these guys hold a lot of depressive elements, I still just call them black metal. The reason why is because the depressive elements are only in the guitars and occasionally in the vocals. When I hear the overall music, the depressive sound is only a mere layer of what makes up this immensely complex sound. I wouldn’t call these guys progressive black because they’re not progressive ENOUGH, I wouldn’t call them depressive black metal because they’re not depressive ENOUGH; I would just call them black metal (or REALLY melodic black metal if you wanted to get super specific). The general song patterns follow the traditional black metal style perfected by Norwegian masters like Darkthrone and Carpathian Forest, but the sound of the songs tend to come in and out of a traditional black metal sound, sort of like Naglfar and Dark Fortress.

The vocals aren’t my favorite; I’ve heard plenty of better black metal vocalists. But the vocals still meet the requirements needed to fit the bill on this album. They have sort of a mid-ranged sound like lots of Naglfar works, but they aren’t as breathy and raspy as the bald Naglfar vocalist. The one member that creates a fault is the drummer.

The drummer could really use some work; mainly on keeping time. The drummer tends to slip out of tempo with the rest of the band quite frequently. And the unfortunate thing is that he does it when it can be heard the easiest (in other words, when the band needs to be the tightest). Although this is EXTREMELY noticeable and makes black metal critics shake their head and smile, this is something that can be easily improved over time. I will expect this fault to be fixed by the time their next record comes around.

Waning is an EXTREMELY depressive and melodic black metal band hailing from Sweden. I have been showing this album to lots of people and none of them have been disappointed. After listening to it first, one of my online friends told me that she knew I would love this, and she was more than right. This is going to be a hard black metal album to beat and I would highly recommend it to EVERYONE whether they’re into black metal or not. I would give this 19/20.