Saturday, March 3, 2012

Pestilential Shadows - Depths [2011]

Being their fourth full-length album to date, Pestilential Shadows have released a black metal album that’s very well worth lending a listen to, surpassing their previous efforts and showing that they have great potential. With “Depths,” they’ve proved to be amongst the few black metal bands that put thorough effort into producing well thought-out riffs, and ones that definitely impact the listener. With a harrowing aesthetic and lengthy tracks, they’ve shown that their songwriting skills are at their best they’ve ever been in their careers, and with straightforward black metal meshing together with depressing yet soothing tones, they’ve released one very worthy black metal album.

Without the heavy use of synthesizers and symphonic components that are usually infused for this effect, Pestilential Shadows pull off and show that they have a tendency to put emphasis on atmosphere. The first track, “Lost Geists of the Sunlight Sphere,” shows you this immediately, bundling up spacious riffs that flow about and fill up the atmosphere. That’s not to say that their music is overly-atmospheric either, but it is definitely present, and they do it quite nicely. They play along common notes and chords that are seen in this style of black metal, but they do so in such a way that they don’t come off as neither trite nor stale. Soon lapsing into slow passages with hushed vocals in the background, they show that their creative ability is at its finest, and they in no way do this to seem pseudo-artistic. These slower passages are dominated by clean guitars and gently sway along before going into tremolo-picked riffs that once again bring about a dark atmosphere and chilling, cold tones.

While the guitars are way up front in their mix, the vocals are also another aspect of their music that’s worth mentioning. It reminded me slightly of bands like Emperor that don’t necessarily need vocals to have great music as their riffs are plain stellar, but if you listen closely, they’re there and they’re pretty great. With the guitars strumming along in the foreground, rasped vocals and intense, ample howls are put forth by the vocalist to create an even more impacting effect on the listener. The sorrowful vocals go along perfectly with the guitars, which also tend to be melancholic and mournful. Occasionally they also make use of lower growls as well, adding variation. The drums are also further back in the mix, and they usually alternate between blast beats and fantastic double bass work.

After the last song is over, Pestilential Shadows bear a lasting effect on the listener. Their music is memorable and impacting, as is Emperor’s. They do share some characteristics, but Pestilential Shadows tend to use more repetition than the latter for effect; don’t get me wrong though, they still have great variation throughout the fifty-minute journey that resides in "Depths." Well worth buying and not necessarily essential, but still a great addition to one’s music library.



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