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Crow Black Sky’s second album “Sidereal Light: Volume One” is a starkly contrasting combination of elements that offers a fascinating take on ambient black metal. It’s defined by blistering drumming, extensive song length and the band’s love of ambience in creating mood.
As a rule for this album, symphonic strings and guitar keep a pulsing and composed musical center, eking out slow yet cataclysmic harmonies, while the vocals and drums do the pummeling. These elements may easily be at odds but you get the sense very early on that this band has embraced it and found a highly effective formula for such a temperamental recipe. With that, their emphasis on atmospherics and space is a distinguishing feature. Songs are nothing short of colossal as the reverb oozes over everything except those vicious blast beats. And lastly you’ll notice that the vocals, while still audible, are pushed back into the mix without being swallowed in the reverb. This these lengthy songs to play out without wearing down the listener with 11 minutes of in-your-face screaming.
The shortest song of this EP still tracks over five minutes while the other three pass eight. The emphasis is on long, gradual arrangements that unfold slowly but dramatically as well. Thanks to their signature barrage of blast beats this is sometimes beautiful and at others clearly brutal, but always with an almost symphonic scope to it.
All four tracks stick to this formula without straying too far but with third track “Lightless, Lifeless” the band really pushes the envelope of what’s possible in this polarizing genre known as atmospheric black metal. I know that I’ve pointed out the intensity of the drumming already but here it’s beyond insanity. The tempo is breathlessly high. It’s only halfway through that we’re offered a moment’s respite. It goes past in a blur, matching the ferocity of the vocals and piling on the rage in a way unlike any you’ll ever hear again.
Crow Black Sky have clearly found a sound and method that they love and “Sidereal:Volume One” is a perfect showcase or it. It’s a fascinating EP to listen to thanks to its ambitious scope, virtuoso drumming and overall uniqueness.
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