lugubrius (lu·gu·bri·ous): mournful; especially : exaggerated or affectedly
Depression wears many masks. It can feel like despair and hopelessness, it can morph into anger, frustration, or contempt. Often times it wears the guises of sorrow and longing, anxiety and fear, guilt and self-inflicted anguish, helplessness and yearning for escape. These powerful surges of emotion have a tendency to overload the senses, often times creating a void of nothingness—a disconnect, an absence. Culturally, black is often the color associated with doom and gloom. In actuality, white better defines the state of depression, reflecting the entirety of the visible (or, for sake of analogy, emotional) spectrum into overload and leaving a void of nothingness that feels like an eternity.
From the very first notes of the opening track, “As The Sacred Bodies Wither Into Nothingness,” the spiraling descent into insanity begins. Multiple synth melodies immediately swoop in, clashing with one another and completely dominating the listening space. They weave their way around the spinal column of the guitar, which does little more than provide a rhythmic backbone for the songs, as well as adding to the near-overwhelming static din. The strained vocals cry out amongst the swirling madness as though gasping for air in an ocean of oppressively ethereal keys. Even with multiple listens, it is difficult to decipher exactly how many layers of the keyboards are actually occurring at any given moment. The audible bass lines that rumble and lurk beneath the surface are exclusively handled by keyboard, while astral choirs reach beyond the heavens. Organ and piano twist and weave in the mid-range—everything, of course, loaded with cathedral levels of reverb.
The drums are obviously programmed, but Golden Ashes’ use of a drum machine is more of a stylistic choice than one made of necessity. They blast at blinding speeds, becoming just as much of a wash of noise as the guitars, still adding bits of fills for added impact beneath the choirs and synths. It’s as though Golden Ashes is removing a bit of the humanity behind the music, opting for a cold, distant void of emptiness that allows the synths to wash in like a raging river through a collapsing floodgate.
Starting the record on such a bombastic note is a risky move—how many times have you been blown away by the first two tracks or so only to be left wanting for the remaining duration of the record? Golden Ashes doesn’t have a lot of tricks left up their sleeve; everything’s pretty much on the table as far as ingredients by the end of the first song. However, de Jong’s skill as a composer keeps the album fresh and interesting throughout In The Lugubrious Silence Of Eternal Night. Right before the midway point of the album, “When Every Word Uttered Is As Whipcuts Into Flesh,” an almost celestial light is shed on the madness with its euphoric crescendos over notably audible pulsing, shifting bass lines.
If the light began peaking through the cracks on the A-side, then it bursts in with an explosion at the onset of the B-side. “From Grace Into Utter Ruin” steals the show for my personal favorite track on the record. Beginning with a choir that just holds this singular, sustained note for nearly the entirety of the song, momentum is pushed to new heights in builds and construction. The minor upward progression of the piano sounds like a madman furiously yet meticulously hammering away at the ivories in a collapsing tower as his demons swirl around his tortured soul. It’s as though the only way to keep them at bay is to continue the musical foray as it reaches its climactic conclusion.
The album does lose a bit of steam going into the title track, but the vocal variations that go from harsh rasp to Silencer-like shrieks of anguish hold the attention. The track acts as a bit of a breather after the overcharged emotional onslaught of “From Grace To Utter Ruin,” as well as a transition into one of the more melancholic tracks, “Black Mouths Murmur Black Prayers.” While it’s just as over-the-top in it’s instrumentation and approach, the song is more solemn and subtle in it’s emotional hooks. A stability has been found—an acceptance and a willingness to cope with the revolving insanity. The choir synths are absolutely stunning, sweeping the listener away from outside distraction and into a mindset of self-reflection, allowing the more subtle build into a sharper and more dramatic push into its own respective climax.
In The Lugubrious Silence Of Eternal Night sits at the center of an agglomeration of juxtaposition. It’s black metal, yet it embraces light. It’s raw and abrasive, yet beautiful and melodic. At times, the individual instruments are overly simplistic, yet they come together to create a majestic composition where “cinematic” barely touches the scope. Even at the times when the more subdued metal elements and up-front symphonic elements appear to be doing entirely different things on their own, they complement and build around one another. The feeling of the album is both an escape and and embrace from the reality of negative emotion—like pushing into a fresh wound: it won’t make you feel better, per se, but it will make everything else wash away, if only for it’s all-to-brief 36 minutes.