Review Summary: mise-en-scène
The climes to which atmospheric black metal place themselves within these days have [in part] become watered down. That’s not an issue of intention, but rather an inflection that is caused by the somewhat polarizing of a genre as a whole. A quick look on the interwebs will showcase any number of Bandcamp newcomers and fan favourites with varying levels of both success and enjoyability. Wounds Of Recollection however falls into a category of enjoyable but not largely memorable atmospheric black metal. The Atlanta based, one-manned project insights simple uplifting Appalachian inspired black metal with slight ‘post’ leanings by building on the very foundations of atmosphere, stereotype and occasional minimal nuance. You Were A Garden Of Empyrean Light
’s formula allows for ample Deafheaven comparisons, but doesn’t stray to far from the paths already forged by the act’s peers. Instead, Wounds Of Recollection paints a landscape, one that doesn’t quite identify with the listener.
You Were A Garden Of Empyrean Light
sets its scene early as graceful notes dance across melancholy during the introduction of “Fog Over Appalachia”. But the album isn’t as beautiful as a whole as some of the fleeting moments throughout. My usual hesitancy to one-man black metal projects normally comes from the album’s mixing and recording. Speaking broadly, there’s generally one flaw that prevents these types of records from reaching the upper echelons of the genre (I say generally to account for those sparse few who manage to surpass the expectations… a cop out I know) but in Wounds Of Recollection’s case the imbalance of the album’s more aesthetically black metal sections simply miss, often sounding muffled or far off. It’s in these moments that You Were A Garden…
falls short of the achievement mentioned above. It’s not something that ‘kills’ this record’s listenability, the atmospheric melancholy and gracing cleans more than make up for it. But in regards to the genre’s typical blasts, double bass (which is the biggest offender here) and tremolo patterns, the overall production is remiss. It’s a shame, as the listener is left underwhelmed instead of enthralled by some rather uplifting music.
“Violence In The River” fits the positivity of the album all too well. Light tones enter calmly, promoting an atmosphere drenched in musical well-being. The tempo increases, and so does the atmosphere, but as the track stretches into graceful minimalism the listener becomes drenched in an audible portrait of greens and greys. This is where Wounds Of Recollection bring simple notes and the Appalachian wilderness together.
Wounds Of Recollection do manage to set a scene of beauty and relaxed black metal, even if it is marred by the processes of its making. Largely, You Were A Garden…
finds itself tasking our need for casual listening, failing to achieve on some pretty obvious potential in their quasi-Deafheaven soundscapes. At forty-nine minutes, You Were A Garden…
is far from an unwelcome listen. The album’s five tracks have enough variance within them to make this particular journey comfortable, but that’s largely where the buck stops. There’s honestly nothing too negative to note here other than the record’s castration by its recording, but neither does this Atlanta based solo project have anything memorable to add to a crowded scene this year.