Review Summary: Kris Angylus and Monica Dragynfly bid farewell to music forever with a hauntingly beautiful masterpiece.
It's amazing to think about, really.
Kris Angylus and Monica Dragynfly were a couple who decided to collaborate on an project together in 1999. Angylus came up with the idea to write a long series of concept albums about a man and his wife suffering immense amounts of pain and torment at the hands of a God before both committing suicide. Eventually, the characters were unable to cope with their hellish lives and succumbed to immeasurable depression. After the consecutive releases of Coma Waerning and Weighing Souls With Sand, Angylus and Dragynfly seemed destined to gather a cult following and take shoegaze to a level not felt since My Bloody Valentine
Then, everything changed. Angylus suffered a debilitating hand injury that left him unable to play the guitar or the drums, instruments that he had been playing for almost his entire life. Since Angylus was the mastermind behind the music, he and Dragynfly had no choice but to set the project aside and try to recover the hand through extensive therapy and surgery. Eventually, however, the hand became so mangled that doctors told him never to play an instrument again. Soon after, Angylus began suffering through extreme bouts of depression himself. And just like the male character in his albums, he ensuingly committed suicide. Dragynfly ended the project on a sad note, saying only "his depression got the better of him and he just could not hold on any longer. Kris passed away on april 26th 2008."
This album is not for the faint of heart. At first listen, it absolutely consumed me. Angylus and Dragynfly used an unorthodox amount of layered instruments to create a massive soundscape and an immersive environment. There are no documented lyrics, yet there presence of vocals is one of the most enveloping parts to this album. Angylus' tortured screams were distorted beyond the point of comprehending specific vocal lines. The band best described the sound of this album as being "the sound a soul makes." From my point of view, it sounds like being crushed and destroyed by a black hole. Just by staring at the gorgeous front cover, it's easy to picture this album's events unfolding before your eyes.
The tone is harshly bleak and unforgiving. By the use of apocalyptic ambient themes, the couple is able to bend the listening experience at will. Songs like "The Promise Of Snakes" and "Dying In A-Minor" constantly switch from silently weeping synthesizers and strings to crushing guitars and drum patterns. While the drumming is simplistic, the way it all mixes together is nothing short of breathtaking. Despite a lack of technicality, the guitar work is phenomenal and varies from melancholic leads to punishing riffs (some of which wouldn't sound out of place on a Mayhem
album.) There are so many layers that a few instruments are difficult to hear at times, but that seems to be what the pair was going for. If a band can leave its listeners emotionally drained using only music, they must have been doing something right.
Is this your thing? Possibly. I'll admit that before I found out that Angylus had committed suicide, this album wasn't as emotionally jarring as it is to me now. In order to fully appreciate this work of art, it requires an open mind and a willingness to give yourself to the music. If you are able to delve into this colossal juggernaut of an album, it will rip your soul in two. "Weighing Souls With Sand" is a hauntingly beautiful masterpiece that gives its listeners one final look into the tortured mind of Kris Angylus before he left our world.