Downfall of Gaia
Silhouettes of Disgust

Germany’s environmental warriors, Downfall of Gaia has been one of my reliable go-tos’s when it comes to modern post-black metal, appearing on my year-end list a couple of times since 2012s Suffocating in a Swarm of Cranes). But when I saw the cover for album number 6, I got major Deafheaven vibes and hoped the band hadn’t gone down the same path as one of their peers.

Luckily, not much has changed in the Downfall of Gaia camp, regardless of the artwork, other than some very slight experimentation with keyboards and some more wing-spreading, but stark atmospherics. Because at their heart this is still rending, emotive modern post /atmospheric black metal of the highest order.

One just needs to go to the moody opener “Existence of Awe” or the first single shown below, “Bodies as Driftwood” to get the vibe from the album’s familiar but still slightly different, ‘grey’ tones. Melodic, emotive, climactic 6/8 tremolo-picked blasts, and pained screams against a backdrop of angst-laden gravitas. And that is pretty much the aura of the whole album with various degrees of each as the album unfurls with slightly different emphasis on either bleak atmospherics or crescendos of blackened melodic catharsis.

For example, the following track “Eyes to Burning Skies”, starts with gorgeous female vocals from Lulu Black then explodes into a furious blast beat before languishing in a somber mid-paced fugue and back to the searingly, melodic but pained-fueled blast again.

Another standout, “Unredeemable” with a rending chord progression that hit home perfectly as does closer “Optograms of Disgust”, with its patient, furtive build and absolutely searing main riff.

Also of note, the band’s tone and atmosphere seem drier and more industrial (befitting the cover) than the more organic tones of prior albums, and the band seems to be self-editing more as gone are the 9 and 12-minute number numbers, so now there are a couple more songs but everything keeps in the 4-7 minute-ish minute mark. Only the excellent “While Bloodsprings Become Rivers” tops the 7 minute mark.

As a result, the album feels more direct, with a little less wandering, but no less draining or impactful, and another solid addition to the band’s excellently consistent discography.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
April 11th, 2023

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