Not that the album is hard to listen to, I just found that the different ways I listened to it before the proverbial penny dropped didn’t do it justice. I listened to it at work with headphones, I listened at home while doing chores on my soundsystem, on the laptop sitting in the couch at home with headphones.. But then, all of a sudden it ‘clicked’ with me. I was on my way back from Brussels and I happened to have borrowed my dad’s car, which has a really, really good soundsystem in it. It was a very dreary, rainy evening, the highway was monotonous and boring and I decided that now was a good time to give the album another go. And voilá, all of a sudden it was there. The realization that, in my opinion, the album plays out like a journey and should be listened to it while on a journey.
Whether intentional or not (I choose to believe it is) the album works best when listened to as one single track. For the first three tracks, ‘Prelude’, ‘Elude’ and ‘Solitude’ this works especially well. On their own, they are really good tracks but when listened to as a 20+ minutes song it becomes something so much more. They’ve been called Atmospheric Black Metal and while I agree with that moniker I also believe that it’s doing them a bit short. First of all it’s remarkable that the atmosphere created is done in an organic way, because a lot of bands in the atmospheric genre can’t do without the use of synths, samples or whatever. No synths here. Guitars, vocals, bass and drums. It’s a brilliantly ‘simple’ album, but all the more effective for it. Sound-wise you could describe them as a mix between black metal and post-rock. Or, for the sake of namedropping, a mix between early Katatonia, Woods Of Desolation, Fauna, Wolves In The Throne Room and Mono and Mogwai. I'm not too keen on the terms 'post-black' or 'blackgaze' but I guess it would fall into those categories if putting things into boxes is your thing. It does lean more on the black side of things though. They're not afraid to blast every once in a while but the tempo is primarily slow. The wonderful production does a great job of making everything sound clear, while at the same time it avoids making it sound sterile. I mentioned it before, but it's that organic sound that is one of the things that appeals most to me.
I have to admit that on the first listen I was slightly disappointing that the sound of the album didn’t completely recall the intense live performances I’ve seen of them so far. But I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t have to emulate that. It’s perfectly okay to see those two aspects of Drawn Into Descent separate for me. It makes both experiences all the more worthwhile.
2015 has been a year with some exceptional black metal releases. Schönesende, Wiegedood, Terzij De Horde, Ghost Bath, Nefast, Wroth, Revenge..... Drawn Into Descent has easily created an album that can be mentioned besides those bands as 'black metal albums of the year'...