No Stars, Only Full Dark

Canada’s Hypnotic Dirge Records is really carving a niche out in the style of the label’s namesake, and their three early 2014 releases from Epitimia, In My Shiver and Russia’s one man project Windbruch are no exception.

No Stars, Only Full Dark is the second album from sole member Illuzii Optice, who performs all of the instruments, and it fits in line perfectly with all of Hypnotic Dirge’s other bands and releases being a depressive, melancholic style of black metal that’s rife with emotion  and somber, shimmering riffs. And while this affair centers around more naturalistic themes as opposed to suicidal ones, the restrained sense of coldness (not surprising considering the band is based in Siberia) sadness that fill the generally mid paced and atmospheric material is pretty well done.

The production isn’t too thin, with clean shrill guitars and the prominent, throbbing bass lines remind me of Ulver‘s Bergtatt, while Optice himself keep the vocals a pretty standard pained rasps as opposed to any over the top hails, moans or wails (though a few spoken words are used on “Only Full Dark” and some clean vocals appear on the lengthy “Neswa Pawuk”). The whole affair is very muted and restrained, like a black metal funeral procession in the woods, a few delicate keyboard tinkle here and there (“No Stars”, “Only Full Dark”) amid the more languid atmospheric and ambien(t) moments making for perfect fall asleep head phone music (notably closer “Flashback to my Lake”).

And the lack of truly explosive or sudden black moments wont startle you from half sleep either as the more riff and guitar based numbers like the rangy, 10 minute “No More Entry, No More Exit”  or more pure doom of “City on Fire” are still pretty doomy, languid and mopey often barely getting over a downtrodden slouch. Even when the pace does pick up, such as the short blasts early in “No More Entry, No More Exit”, it’s pretty passive, like it really doesn’t want to be a blast beat but is doing it anyway. It’s actually a pretty nice dynamic that give the blasts an gloomy and despondent  feel.

Of the label’s three early 2014 releases, this one is middle of the pack between the overly ambitious double album from Epitimia and the experimental  In My Shiver, but Obsidian Tongue‘s A Nest of Ravens in the Throat of Time still stands as the label best release so far.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
September 3rd, 2014


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