[8/10] The cold can be an exacting beast to face or synthesize in new forms. Across all manner of mediums chilly images and wintery ideals have long been associated with themes of isolation, misery, and testaments to perseverance (though only two are featured here). Long a staple image intended to be conjured by Scandinavian-themed black metal and subsequently an ingrained part of its legacy, it unsurprisingly plays a central role in Posthum’s latest monster Lights Out. A desolate and at times sonically sparse (at least compared to most black metal) release, it nevertheless usually hits all of the right notes, a release born from and a tribute to frigid isolation.
Though featured throughout most of the opener (and longest track) “Untame,” blastbeats are otherwise used fairly sparingly the pace on hand much more reserved and stripped-down. Though no less caustic when not in use (“Scarecrow”) than when they are (“Summoned At Night”), it provides a pleasant release from the blast-happy sound that so often dominates the genre (for good or bad). Production Is fairly dry throughout though what is on hand is cleanly audible, no ear-destroying buzzing guitar ala Nattens Madrigal or that weird wet-towel-on-tin drum sound so infamous on Under the Sign of Hell. The cold isolation of rural Norway however is very much alive and well and on display throughout, even without a piss-poor production job.
“Down On Blood,” arguably the blackest track on the album, is also the highlight of all things that is fantastic and not-so-fantastic about the album as a whole. Blackened and chilly as the proceedings may be, the dirge-like nature of several songs occasional causes some songs to bleed together, particularly in the middle of the album. By the time the instrumental “Afterglow” and closer “Lights Out” run their respective courses however all that transpired in the middle is forgiven, each contributing to a rather stellar closing.
It’s no secret that black metal is alive and well here in 2012 and despite the nigh over-saturation of material (be it good or bad) it still gives me particular chills (no pun intended) to find a surprise in a well executed album that I otherwise wasn’t expecting. While by no means flawless, Lights Out is here to assure that winter and its long and terrible grasp is very much upon us.
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