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Silhouettes Of Disgust


Album Review: DOWNFALL OF GAIA Silhouettes Of Disgust

7 Reviewer

March is the perfect month for miserable sludgy post-black metal. Fortunately, Downfall of Gaia have dropped their sixth album just in time for black hoodie season. Silhouettes of Disgust picks up right where Ethic of Radical Finitude left off, sitting somewhere between the old and new schools with just enough fresh ideas to keep things interesting. Fans of Wolves In The Throne Room who thought the last album verged too far off base, take note.

It's the lo-fi production on the drums and guitars that keeps Downfall of Gaia firmly in the old school camp. Even the lengthy post-rock sections are much more like Ulver than they do Deafheaven. In other places, it's pure raw black metal fury, the kind that's usually relegated to sparsely populated basement concerts featuring corpsepainted bands with unreadable logos.

Downfall of Gaia have a bit more class than that. Every song on Silhouettes features at least one instance of clean ambience shining through all the noise. Some, like "Eyes to Burning Skies" build in a giant crescendo back to blastbeats. More epic numbers like "Existence of Awe" mix the two styles into a majestic blend that sounds bigger than anything most symphonic bands can conjure.

Since their origins as a crust punk band fifteen years ago, Downfall of Gaia has been steadily drawn towards the light. Traces of Mogwai influence can be found all over Silhouettes of Disgust, if Mogwai also listened to Bathory on a regular basis. All of this is pure mana for the black metal diehards who have grown up with the genre and seen it develop into the blackgaze juggernaut it is today. People still stuck in the early '90s can enjoy their basement shows, because Downfall of Gaia clearly have their sights set on something higher.

The choppy start of "Final Vows" is one baffling choice on the album. Maybe Downfall of Gaia took the lo-fi idea too far, but the sudden stop-and-start is jarring in the worst kind of way. More than one listener will probably think their wireless earbuds are skipping.

Silhouettes wisely avoids testing its audience's patience. There was a time when full albums of ten-minute dirges were something to aspire to, but the modern world of streaming has killed whatever attention spans most listeners have left. "When Bloodsprings Become Rivers", the longest track on Silhouettes, barely cracks the seven minute marker. It's also one of the album's best songs, one whose impact might have lessened if it was crammed between two long slogs.

It might feel like the musical equivalent of being soaked to the bone by a sleet storm, but sometimes Silhouettes of Disgust can really hit the spot. Fans of this obscure branch of metal have always known how it can be used to block out the world and bask in feelings of melancholia, isolation and despair. The best post-black metal bands give a ray of hope to their listeners, a reassuring sign that not everything is gray and harsh. Downfall of Gaia have followed in the footsteps of Alcest and Myrkur to reach the stop of the blackgaze scene. Though they sometimes fall back on familiar tropes, for a fifteen year old band, this sounds extremely promising.

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