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"Black Lights and Silent Roads" (CD)

My Silent Wake - "Black Lights and Silent Roads" CD cover image

"Black Lights and Silent Roads" track listing:

My Silent Wake
1. I Am (Eternity) (5:44)
2. Bleak Endless Winter (5:58)
3. Devoid of Light (6:03)
4. Rebirth (23:31)

The Drowning
5. The Doomsday Feire (10:41)
6. Arc Light (8:45)
7. Silent Epiphany (4:53)
8. A Photograph (7:40)

Reviewed by on December 28, 2010

"'Black Lights and Silent Roads' offers a great introduction to either band and is strong enough to work on its own as a standalone release."

Why just settle for one Gothic doom metal band when you could have two? “Black Lights and Silent Roads” is a perfect name for this moody split, which features U.K. acts My Silent Wake and The Drowning. The bands weave a melancholy thread through the bleak atmosphere of doom during the split’s hour and 15 minute run time, with each band covering the other as well as contributing new material. Repeat listens are highly suggested, as the mournful dirges only get better on successive spins as the elements separate out and the guitar work has a chance to sink in.

My Silent Wake trudges in with a funeral marching beat on the cover of Attrition’s “I Am (Eternity).” The atmosphere is immediately thick with the fog of sorrow, switching between Gothic male vocals, female singing, and a deep growl dripping with doom overtones. As the cover ends, the band moves into the original track “Bleak Endless Winter,” which has a much heavier tone and focuses more on death metal style vocals while keeping up a dark vibe. The track mixes up the slow moving chug of doom, the bleak atmosphere of more Gothic bands, and straight heavy metal guitar work.

In an intriguing twist, the bands reverse the originally intended dynamic when they cover each other’s material, turning an acoustic song into a metal track and a metal track into an acoustic offering. My Silent Wake’s cover of “Devoid of Light” is easily the least heavy song on the album, but it also has some of the most interesting sounds and emotional clean singing.

The Drowning’s contributions are generally heavier and more brutal, although with essentially no loss to the dreary atmosphere. The bands play together often so it’s probably not all that surprising, but it’s interesting how much these bands play off each other and build up sounds influenced by the other. The main difference between the two is that The Drowning tends to build up multiple layers more often, working together many different elements at the same time and having more engaging guitar work.

From the trippy 23 minute monster “Rebirth” to the ethereal and thoroughly depressing “Arc Light,” both bands offer long and melodic forays into Gothic doom. “Black Lights and Silent Roads” offers a great introduction to either band and is strong enough to work on its own as a standalone release.

Highs: The Gothic doom element is always present, but there are also plenty of trips into other styles to keep it fresh.

Lows: Some of the songs could use a little more polish production-wise.

Bottom line: A great starting point for either of these mournful doom metal acts.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)