Label: Blackened Death Records
Some records do not deserve to be buried in time and dust. Such is the case with V by Desolation, which was originally released in 2013 but has now been given a re-release by Blackened Death Records, following from the band ending their hiatus. This is a record that certainly lives up to the promise of the band name, being uncompromisingly bleak and unsettling even by the standards of drone. There’s also an experimental, avant-garde and dark ambient edge to V which helps it to stand out, making this a record that deserves a re-release and the resulting fresh wave of recognition and appreciation. Best listened to in darkened isolation, V is a record to be experienced, rather than enjoyed.
The challenges are very much front-loaded, with opener “The Light Is Gone” throwing the listener in at the deep end. Static fuzz, distant drones, and deeply unsettling, inhuman vocals paint a picture of the blackest, most damaged of souls. Anyone expecting glacial riffs and volumes to ruin their speakers will want to look elsewhere – it’s not that kind of drone. Instead, it’s more dark ambient than anything metal, wonderfully artistic, and whilst it can’t be described as enjoyable, that’s not the aim or point with a song like this. It’s not until third track “Fields Of Despair” that anything resembling a guitar can possibly be heard, and even then it’s buried under waves of bleak, atmospheric synths and tainted ambiance, punctuating by the sound of thunder. For sure, it’s claustrophobic and suffocatingly heavy, but more in an emotional sense than musical. Fourth track “Losing Faith” is further evidence of this, with the background birdsong making the heavy synths at the front only sound more ominous and mournful by comparison.
Thankfully, Desolation don’t spend the full duration of V smothering the listener, and there are a few moments of light that help create contrasts and provide a chance to clear your head. Short interlude-style tracks “Wandering” and “Wastelands” are almost beautiful, with the piano and rainstorm of the former being a welcome respite after the uncompromising horrors of “The Light Is Gone”; whilst the quieter, more sparse “Wastelands” sets up the bleak, disorientating closer “Sadness” superbly.
V is the sort of album that really benefits from the right listening conditions. Such is its captivating nature, it will pull you in to its pit of darkness if given half a chance; but for maximum effect, this is the kind of album that should be listened to in solitude, somewhere past midnight, with minimal lighting. There are plenty of horrors to be unleashed here, and even if having them run riot over your psyche is not exactly a pleasurable experience, there is still something enormously cleansing and cathartic about it. Drink in its dark ambiance, and challenge yourself. The rewards are more than worthwhile.