Dark ambient from the man behind Drudkh, Rabble, Whores, Usurers is what all bands like Drudkh, purporting to be black metal but more at home with a milder form of expression, should realign their lines of sight towards. Perhaps, it is the natural path of progression for all black metal, even the more caustic strains, for what else is there to do but meditate – maybe on reconstruction, maybe on the ensuing void itself – after exposing the decrepit spirituality of organized religions in their dotage? There are no twenty-year long black metal discographies of consistent quality; surely that tells us something about the exponential erosion in vitality over time that conventional black metal is susceptible to.
Little tonal movement occurs across this album’s length, too little, perhaps, but there is a definite. uniform, melodic identity to all seven pieces here; awash in a harmonic, choral, quasi-Gregorian synthesizer drone in the background, seemingly innocuous bells and chimes, here a step up, there an octave down the scale, act as mottled daubs of color and contrast on a vast canvas. The atmosphere this simple technique creates is heavy and pensive, and, in some abstract way, indicative of the austerity of medieval Europe that forms this project’s platform theme.
Like Burzum‘s Hliðskjálf, this album is representative of music as physical frequency. Out on a jog the other day in the early morning hours, I came across a mynah bird, perched on an overhanging telephone wire, chirping away its humble song in unconscious yet naturally-tuned consonance. There was no ambition in it; well, that’s not entirely accurate, for this warbling must have been a mating call, seeing how it is the monsoons here, and so carried the ambition of life, itself. But it held no pretension of architectural grandeur, and came out as a simple mingling of sounds, of nature distilled to its elements.
I won’t say Dark Ages come close to approximating that kind of purity, nor that their music contains the sheer joy so obvious in that little bird’s singing. Rabble, Whores, Usurers is night-music, to be sure, but it works on the same minimalist principle that is found in nature.