Before black metal was so often equated to frozen winds, icy tundras, and frosty landscapes, it was a style of fire. Sarcófago, Blasphemy, and the earlier works of Beherit evoked a humid, claustrophobic atmosphere seared by the thick flames of Hell itself. Simply the thought of throwing on Blood Upon The Altar or The Oath Of Black Blood is enough to make the skin clammy with the onset of a full sweat.
One of the early tips of this particular flame was a demo. Thrust into obscurity by unfortunate circumstance, a particular tape emerged out of Finland in 1991 that would have a small but dedicated ripple effect across the years of black metal. The Lord Diabolus — Beherit under what was effectively a pseudonym to protect their material from Turbo records — released a singular work, Down There…, which bridges the gap between the rawer, more aggressively primal The Oath Of Black Blood and the ritualistic, esoteric sounds of Drawing Down The Moon. Across the world, in North Carolina, Demoncy hit a similar stride with their debut rehearsal tape, Impure Blessings (Dark Angel Of The Four Wings). Downtuned, smoldering, and evoking that feeling of being slowly raked against the coals, Demoncy would stick with this style for over twenty years, releasing both now-classics Within The Sylvan Realms Of Frost and Joined In Darkness at the turn of the century.
The style continues from its embers, growing into the modern era with bands such as Moenen Of Xezbeth, Perverted Ceremony, and especially Void Meditation Cult. The power in the whispered, otherworldly incantations of the vocals, and in the slower and more labored tempo — both augmented with the weight of the tone and contrasted by the relentless energy of the guitars — crafts that sweltering atmosphere of blackened forms of both death and doom that exude an uncompromising evilness in their intent of exploring the darkness by virtues of the metals most black.
Today, Last Rites has the pleasure of revealing a slice of this offering in the form of the eponymous “Deadlight Sanctuary.” Appropriately titled both in its revelation of the band’s intent and the catharsis found in its extinguishing of any light of hope, “Deadlight Sanctuary” starts with a reserved blast, setting both a groove and feeling of tension as the chord changes seemingly glide together in that classic Demoncy style. The power builds with the transition to a slower — but no less driving — running kick; the vocals echoing in a layered multi-voiced delivery comprised of harsh whispers, throaty growls, and sheer animalistic veracity as they reverberate through the cavernous chambers of terror, as though heckling a force beyond the domains of death itself. The haunting echoes of the synths give way to a liquid, almost psychedelic wind before the track fully unleashes, leaning its full might into conjoining the previous riffs over a wave of necrotic invigoration. The iron hooks sink into the flesh, pulling and twisting as the song climaxes, revealing a contorted form of horror reserved only for the deepest levels of Hell, or the maximum pleasure found in partaking in a particular series of Clive Barker films. “Deadlight Sanctuary” is the joint pain and ecstasy of life leaving the body, siphoned through an auditory invocation with intent on rotting the human spirit beyond any semblance of hope.