Aleynmord – The Blinding Light Review

It was some time ago now that the mighty Steel Druhm wandered into the Angry Metal Break room, bewildered and dazed, a single page of text — the promo sheet for Aleynmord’s debut The Blinding Light — stuck to his paw. He read it out to us. It claimed such things as “a range of vocals from a shrill cry, yells, cleans, and even Americana-esque whistles enshrouded by a fog of thick guitars and a walking bass, The Blinding Light is a concise collection of tracks which convey this powerful emotion that can only be attempted to describe.” What was noteworthy about this strange text was that it never actually told us what genre the music was. There was debate; there was intrigue. I determined that I would take this promo for myself, and I would go into it completely blind. Maybe I’d end up hating it — that would sure show them!

Yeah, I didn’t hate it. Actually, the promo text turned out to be a bang-on description of the music, which, by the way, is rooted in black metal. More than that, The Blinding Light represents thirty-five minutes of some of the most interesting black metal I’ve heard in a while. The only reference that comes to mind is that this is sort of what I imagine would happen if October Falls and Arkhaaik1 were somehow fused into a single entity. Haunting ambience and acoustic interludes cut through mists of melodic tremolos and distant shrieks. The restrained melodic tendencies of the former act meet the raw, primal energy of the latter in a union that shouldn’t work, but winds up exceeding all expectations.

When Aleynmord (or whoever wrote their promo text) describe The Blinding Light as conveying a “powerful emotion that can only be attempted to describe,” they are not wrong. I don’t even know how to begin talking about the way I feel as the album goes by. This is a different creature; for one thing, it’s largely instrumental, despite the clear presence of a vocalist. “Spores of Possession” is littered with distant, agonized shrieks that never coalesce into anything resembling lyrics, while “Wounded Monolith” and “Poetry of Marrow and Rot” feature unintelligible, guttural chants that speak to the album’s isolated nature. If the lack of vocals worries you, it needn’t necessarily — this is about as good as “instrumental” black metal gets, with vicious melodies, melancholy interludes, and an incredible production to tie it all together. It makes you feel simultaneously larger than life. It also makes you feel very, very small.

The insubstantial nature of The Blinding Light may be a bit of a drawback for some. The album certainly has its hooks — the ending of “Poetry of Marrow and Rot” is downright energetic — but there is a lot of shifting and reforming throughout the album. Earlier I commented that the production job on the album is incredible — and I mean it — but after a few spins, the very quiet drumming started to feel less like an asset for the melancholic atmosphere and more like a missed opportunity. Mind, Aleynmord are not writing particularly vicious material here, so the aggression isn’t needed, but it is missed in the album’s livelier moments. Perhaps this is why the title track is my favourite of the four — largely ambient, the least metal of them all, but filled with an anguished, anxious longing that defies description. Emotionally, The Blinding Light excels, and I feel that whatever my few-and-far-between misgivings with the record may be, it is this utterly alien emotional core that keeps me coming back to it time and time again.

According to their promotional material, Aleynmord crafted The Blinding Light during a period of self-imposed isolation in the Columbia Gorge. Having never done such a thing myself, I can’t relate to the feeling. But that’s what’s so special about The Blinding Light — without having experienced that journey myself, I feel like an intrinsic part of it. I experienced emotions that I have no name for, perfectly preserved in The Blinding Light. That this is a debut is shocking — Aleynmord are absolutely bursting with power and with potential. I’m not going to suggest that they isolate themselves in a canyon every time I want to listen to new black metal or anything. I’m just saying that it’s worked out incredibly well the first time.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Art of Propaganda Records
Websites: |
Released Worldwide: August 28th, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. Get back here, Carcharodon, it’s a good thing.
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