In Swathes of Brooding Light

I honestly don’t know where to start here. I have vague recollections of Ebonylake from the late ’90s due to them being British and residing on Cacophonous Records, but never actually heard their sole 1999 release, On the Even of the Grimly Inventive. So when I got this CD from new French label–this is only their 5th release–I was curious to hear what the band sounded like, even more so after a decade layoff.

Still not sure where to go with this, but lets try with this; take Cradle of Filth, Blut Aus Nord, Unexpect, Visceral Evisceration, Gnaw Their Tongues and Therion. Put in  blender. Throw on wall.

That’s about all I can come up with, as Ebonylake play a form of completely batshit insane Gothic tinged, symphonic black metal that’s utterly off the charts. It rarely confirms to any actual songs or structures; it’s a caustic dissonant cacophony of riffs layered with spurts of equally atonal symphonics, programmed drums, moans, rasps, clean Gothic vocals and female vocals. It’s like Gothic metal gone completely off the deep end, taking some LSD the going and getting raped by De Magia Veterum at a carnival side show.

And while I’m sure that is the sound the band is going for, I tried really hard to appreciate this release for its truly avant garde and genre fucking schizophrenic nature, its just simply too much.

Now a mere duo from their early septet days, founders Ophelius and Mass have tried to flesh out the band’s sound, but with heavy programming needed to recreate drums and symphonics, the overall tone is heavy handed and mechanical rather than lavishly twisted. The song titles like “In Swathes of Brooding Light Skeletal Birds Scratch at Broken Windows”, “Licking at the Nesting’s of Young Fledglings” and “Amethyst Lung Concerto” hint at this truly avant garde, darkly beautiful act but end up sounding like a Orchestral recital at a construction site.

I’m generally OK with chaos as art, as bands like Blut Aus Nord and the aforementioned duo of Gnaw Their Tongues and De Megia Veterum have a certain allure and sonic mindfuckery to their sound, an underlying sense of dread and paranoia. But in the the case of Ebonylake  while there is some unsettling moods, it’s largely superficial, forced and its almost pure noise.

There are a few moments of more controlled clarity such as “Amethyst Lung Concerto”  “Within Deepest Red (The Opening of…)” and “Theory of Sexual Carvings” but they more often than not devolve into this spiral of orchestral dissonance that makes my fillings hurt. Even the 10 minute closer, “A Voice in Piano”, a slower drawn out track, has this staggering, Frankenstein-ian gait that mixes lavish, doomy Goth moods with awkward, discordant riffs that comes across as muddled rather than deformed and frightening. Only the few moments of piano only beauty give respite.

In all a bit of a missed opportunity, as I think there’s the potential for a off kilter black metal band like this, but Ebonylake need to focus and reign things in just a little bit to add some clarity to their potential.


[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
November 14th, 2011


  1. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    haha, this is pretty nuts.

  2. Commented by: Cynicgods

    Methinks Cynny needs to hear this. :D

  3. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    my french is awful, but I think the label name means “the actors of the shadow.” that’s actually pretty cool.

  4. Commented by: Cynicgods

    Yup, that’s exactly what it means.

    Heard it. Very disjointed and strange. Me likey.

  5. Commented by: gg

    Right! They produced the 2 first pensées Nocturnes albums and some others like the fabulous first “CULT OF ERNINYES” album.

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