If you mention the words metal and love together in the same sentence, my mind instantly jumps to everyones least favorite group of love metallers and part of the reason that damn heartagram logo was so pervasive (Bam Margera can shoulder the rest of the blame) – HIM. Sorry, maybe it’s just because they were inescapable during my formative years but any time I see the words love and metal within a few characters of each other, I start to bug out. I was hoping that As Light Dies’ The Love Album Vol 1 would be the album that replaced this mental association but sadly, it is not. Though TLA Vol 1 does have high points, these are out-weighed by the lows and the general sense of identity confusion that seems to run through this album.
It starts out well enough (if a little stereotypically) with some dissonant piano chords and unnerving sound bites before kicking into guitars and a blast beat heavy drum style you would expect from a band that was marketed to me as avante-garde black metal. Now let me state that I’m pretty much as far as you can get from a purist “kvlt” metal head when it comes to pretty much any sub-genre, but there should be some restraint applied when adding new elements into your music. The vocals remind me of the male half of a Disney love ballad and I’m torn by this. On one hand, it sounds like they switched up the vocal track with the next Disney feature but then again it IS different so I find it kind of interesting. It’s like a Disney-fied black metal version of The Phantom of the Opera. I’m into that idea but at the same time I know we shouldn’t go down that path.
By the time Together as One (track #4) is done, I’m almost certain I’ve been taken on a listening tour of a good chunk of the metal sub-genres. Later on, while listening to Nemesis (a track that starts out strong with a doomy riff that drops away to a haunting solo violin), we are pulled from the cold grasp of blast beats into a bass line i can only compare to something out of a nu-metal bands playbook. The weird combination of drum pads and nu-metal bass is just such a jarring thing to hear in the middle of the albumThis happens way too often throughout this album for it to be dismissed. I don’t know what As Light Dies really intended by doing this, but it didn’t work. It just comes across as muddy and hard to follow which is disappointing because I truly think, if given room to shine, these guys are actually fairly talented musicians.
When TLA Vol 1 does hit its high points it all comes together, works really well and just leaves you wondering what happened to lead this project so astray. The fretwork on display in tracks like Orpheus Mourning and the early parts of Nemesis is truly impressive and should have been pushed more to the forefront instead of cluttering up the sound scape with layers of unneeded instruments. I’m willing to give As Light Dies the benefit of the doubt and say this whole thing might fuse really well in a live setting but as a recording it doesn’t really satisfy.
-Scotty can be found cursing the heartagram at @drunkgraveyard