predatory-light-predatory-lightAs much as I hate to admit it, my appreciation for doom has declined over the years. Back when I was first getting into metal, I remember scouring the doom metal Wikipedia page for info on the genre and purchasing all the My Dying Bride, Katatonia, and Swallow the Sun CDs my minimum-wage high school job could afford. But in recent years, I’ve become too impatient to sit and ponder dreary sadboy melodies or chords that reverberate for ten seconds at a time. Thus it was with some apprehension that I approached the self-titled debut of Seattle-based quartet Predatory Light, whose previous split and two demos garnered them the ‘black/doom’ tag from fellow internet metalheads. I was curious – would these New Mexico transplants relish in mushy nothingness or use actual riffs to plumb the fearful Lovecraftian depths?

Fortunately, it turns out the doom tag is a bit of a misnomer. Unlike what I was expecting – that is, either the funeral black of Nortt  or the horrifying genre fusion of Necrite Light coalesce the two styles in a way that combines the grim mood and tempo of mid-paced black metal with the haunting atmosphere and ghoulish leads of the most ominous graveyard doom. After a minute of creeping ambiance, opener “Laughing Wound” begins with an eerie, winding lead and plodding chords that give way to hammering blastbeats and frightful ascending intervals. While vocalist Luke Sheppard (also of defunct drone group Drought) usually sticks to a cavernous death growl, late highlight “Sacrum (Feral Devotion)” mixes things up with ghastly shrieks alongside lashing tremolos, which emerge from the song’s riffy foundation like vengeful spirits bursting from the walls.

It’s soon clear the real standout is the guitar-work of Sheppard and fellow guitarist Kyle Morgan (Ash Borer). While there’s plenty of solid and imposing riffing throughout these six tracks, the focus of each song seems to be needly, repeating leads. After its stomping verse, “Lurid Hand” introduces a melody with foreboding Eastern flair, while “Divine Membrane” rides on an encircling lead that sounds like something from a subterranean cult ritual. As best showcased on the plunging chords and squealing trills of closer “Born of the Wrong Blood,” the overall vibe is something like that conjured by Danish death metal bands Church Bizarre and Cerekloth. The lead-work is quick and hummable, yet haunting and sinister. Even for someone who’s doom boner went flaccid years ago, I love it. Unlike the shuffling pace one might expect, the drums spend most of these 41 minutes at a swift marching tempo, only occasionally lapsing into blasting or slower dirges.

predatory-light-2016

Rounded out by an excellent mix and delightfully crisp cymbals, there’s a lot to like here, but Light is not without flaws. With repeat listens the aforementioned leads begin to feel a little too similar and repetitive, and it’s soon obvious more variety is needed. In the future, I’d love to see Light get more adventurous in exploring their black or doom elements rather than continuing to adhere tightly to their stylistic fusion. Perhaps because of this, the record never quite achieves the outright chilling atmosphere it seems to be going for, as much as the low ambient humming and creepy clean picking in aforementioned “Sacrum” try to conjure it. It’s only the wilting tritonic phrases and tortured moaning that close out “Lurid Hand” which really make me squirm.

That said, with an average runtime of six-and-a-half minutes, the songs are tightly written and packed with good ideas – in fact, the lead-work really only feels repetitive over the course of the album as a whole. While I can’t say it’s a year-end candidate, this is a strong and promising debut that crafts a truly unique sound and doesn’t contain a single weak track. If anyone ever wondered what Hooded Menace would sound like sped-up and with frequent, tendrily lead guitars, heed the call of the Crypt Keeper and follow Predatory Light into the darkness. For everyone else, give it a try, and decide for yourself.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 9 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Invictus Productions
Website: predatorylight.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: September 22nd, 2016

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  • Reese Burns

    Seeing as I’m fucking obsessed with doom, I’ll make sure to check this out and keep an eye out for them in the future.

  • This sounds like 80% of iron bonehead’s output. Sounds like Invictus needs to be reminded who signs the bands that sound like they record at the bottom of a gravel pit.

    • It’s definitely not innovative. The expression is tried and true. Yet, and fortunately, quality sometimes surpass originality and Predatory Light is clearly such a case in my view.
      The album do require quite some time to sink in, though.
      Personally, I recommend this album, and I would gladly have given it at least a notch higher rating.

      • Well I’ll spend some time with it to see if it differs enough to be worth my money. Meanwhile the
        MARTRÖÐ EP just came out for free…

        • Haven’t checked it out yet, but I’m sure looking forward to it.

      • Mark Z

        It was definitely one of those albums where I was torn between a 3.5 and a 3.0. After several listens I think it’s a good album with a lot of potential but the songs are just a bit too similar for it to deserve a higher rating. To me it’s one of those rare cases where the whole is actually less than the sum of its parts.

        Also just curious, what artists would you say sound like these guys? Not trying to call you out, I’m legitimately curious. When I was listening I really couldn’t think of anyone who quite worked in a mix of black metal and these quick yet doomy leads like these guys do. I guess maybe Ill Omen but they’re more funeral doom. Hence why I labeled them as original, but if there’s other bands out there that sound like this I’d love to check them out :)

        • strychnin

          If you are curious, strange as it is, Fen is the first band that comes into my mind.

  • Innit Bartender

    To get Ansel Adams to shoot your band photo is no small thing…

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      From the grave!

      • Innit Bartender

        This band surely wields some misssssssterious arcane power…

    • Norfair Legend

      My childhood dentist was fascinated by Ansel, had pictures everywhere in his office.

    • basenjibrian

      Ansel Adams? That’s gotta be taken straight from High Plains Drifter! Before Clint started talking to empty chairs.

  • brklyner

    Great review! The embedded track doesn’t sweep my off my feet, but I definitely want to hear more.

  • Dan Lowndes strikes again. He is awesome. I haven’t listened to it but I bed the production on this record is top notch.

  • hallowed

    This is really solid. Thanks for the tip.

  • strychnin

    I truly like this one