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Feral Light - Fear Rides A Shadow Award winner

Feral Light
Fear Rides A Shadow
by Sean McGuirk at 29 March 2019, 4:45 AM

FERAL LIGHT hails from Minnesota, playing the kind of Blackened Post-Metal that usually garners a few spots on any Pitchfork year-end Metal list.  That is to say, it is really, very good.  “Fear Rides A Shadow” is their second LP and ups the production and artistry from 2017’s “Void/Sanctify,” making it a worthy candidate for any thinking man’s year-end list.  It has all the majestic, airy, feel-the-space-between-the-notes qualities that would make this a decent listen on the long drive to Joshua Tree or through a cold Minneapolis snowstorm, but with some seriously feral, chaotic moments that keep this cold slab of carrion feeling alive.

The song titles and album art conjure ancient desolation, and Andrew Reesen’s tribal drum patterns are a key element.   “Arrow and Beast” takes on the sound of a nomadic hunting party, with Andy Schoengrund’s (ex-WOLVHAMMER) crunchy guitar riffs encircling like vultures on an abandoned carcass.  There is certainly a Crusty CELTIC FROST or BATHORY inspired Black-and-Roll aspect, like on the rollicking “Spirit Inanimate,” that features a few different shades, including an impossibly melodic midsection that gets into an semi-Eastern-inspired groove.  There are elements of full-tilt Black Metal assault, like on the verse of “Psychic Dirt,” that has a Transylvanian DARKTHRONE-ish quality to it.  When these frenzied moments appear, like dust devils in the desert, they always dovetail nicely into a broader melody that permeates each track like a recurring theme.

The production is superb, experimenting well with some analog sounding reverb and twangy guitar settings that feed into the desert rock atmospherics.  Each instrument is given air to breathe, with a clanging bass track having its own percussive element to it, like during the quieter interludes on “Cold Monochrome.”  The guitar riffs are very open and melodic, with a lot of suspension and dissonance, characteristic of the genre.  Schoengrund’s vocals, brought to their absolute apex on the standout track, “Carbonic Dust,” are a scientific marvel in their consistency.  He’s not afraid to go into the red, and adds some snarl in the exceptionally crusty album closer “No Refure, No Reprieve.”  Toward the end of the song, there’s a blast beat section with an accompanying tremolo-picked melody that feels as if it’s coming from the ether.  The phrase is repeated, hypnotizing you as you get pulled in deeper.  It’s a perfect moment, and one that is amplified by the band’s ability to mix it up and play in different genres.

Indeed, FERAL LIGHT certainly has a lot to cheer about, as this album feels like a breakthrough for the band, and one that shows a maturity, a genre dexterity and an attention to atmosphere that critics tend to appreciate as well.  We’ll see about Pitchfork, but “Fear Rides A Shadow” is certainly on my “Best of 2019” radar.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. Wake
2. Arrow and Beast
3. Spirit Inanimate
4. Psychic Dirt
5. Cold Monochrome
6. Carbonic Dust
7. No Refuge, No Reprieve
Andrew Reesen - Drums
Andy Schoengrund - Guitars, Bass, Vocals
Record Label: Pulverised Records


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Edited 05 February 2023

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