40 years separate the current moment from the year Venom named their second album “Black Metal”. Since then, a genre named after that album consolidated its roots and saw scenes emerging all over the globe, changing the original heterogeneous, chaotic and punk-like energy towards something more defined.
The First Wave
What we call today “First Wave of Black Metal” is nothing but a conglomerate of bands that displayed some satanic/death worshiping thematic and extreme sounding according to a retrospective perspective, embracing bands that sound nothing alike: Venom playing Speed/NWOBHM; Sodom, Bathory and Hellhammer playing something between Speed, Thrash, and Punk; Mercyful Fate and Witchfynde playing Heavy Metal; Sarcófago and Vulcano playing Death/Thrash; and many other examples complementing the heterogeneous “Black Metal” umbrella.
Hailing from the United States, Predatory Light is a band that, although recent and labeled as “Black Metal”, doesn’t inherit much of the characteristics explored by the early 90s Norwegian Black Metal scene. Sharing similarities with the “Occult Extreme Metal” from the 80s, such as Mortuary Drape (Italy), Tormentor (Hungary) Master’s Hammer and Root (Czech Republic), the American band evidences in their sound the incipient characteristics from the Black Metal pioneers: a strong devotion to riffs, Punk tones, tempo that oftentimes flirt with Doom Metal, audible bass lines and strong Old-school Metal vibes.
“Death and the Twilight Hours” is the second full length of the band, released in 2022 by the cult label “20 Buck Spin”. And besides, Negative Plane’s “The Pact…” is a strong contestant to be one of the highlights of the year in the sub-genre. Without sounding like a “retro” band, Predatory Light plays in the old way, but also fits within their music elements of contemporary Black Metal, such as a strong atmosphere and a certain “lo-fi” production. The cover art, depicting a skeleton archer riding a pale horse over a burning village, evokes the historical portrait of “Death on the hunt”. In a macabre depiction of the apocalypse – something that permeates the entire music presented on the album.
With almost 40 minutes distributed in only 4 tracks, the songs are built almost as epic narratives. The lyrics evoke death, as the title of the album suggests, translated here in hopelessness – like bad omens to mankind’s future.
The opening track, “The Three Living and the Three Dead” channels all the band’s dark influences into a prelude of a journey where the destination is most certainly doom:
“Come from black fire in fearsome form
He rides through brimstone sky
Called from hell by celestial choir, the scorn of beasts
The judging hour, of visions sight, draweth nigh”
The third track – the one that gives name to the album – evidences the approach of the upcoming apocalypse:
“Come and see! Earth’s kingdom shattered.
Come! The end is near.
Come and see! Life’s glory sundered.
Come! The end is here”.
The guitar riffs and melodies are definitely what guide the entire album, making “Death and the Twilight Hours” the sort of record that requires more than one listen to flourish all its nuances. The bass lines are really worth checking out with attention, as well as some sparse organs that bring the entire atmosphere to a whole new level.
Death and the Twilight Hours is a strong successor to the band’s self-titled debut released six years ago, with incipient elements that are now fully developed in the new release. And a grateful surprise for those that worship the old way of playing Extreme Metal.
01. The Three Living and the Three Dead
02. Wracked by Sacred Fires
03. Death and the Twilight Hours
04. To Plead Like Angels
20 BUCK SPIN