|What is sonic darkness? How can it be defined, assembled through instruments, or harder a task: how can it be explained using words?|
What is that purveyors of auditory darkness continuously seek to capture on tape, to understand its essence, how it is created - or more accurately - where they can find the pool of darkness from which to absorb some of it only to manifest it through sound?
Darkness isn't really created, is it? It is always there, like the gold mineral, buried deep down beneath the earth's crust, it cannot be generated, and it has to be dug out, after it is found.
Why is it that I encounter too-many-to-count 'dark' adjectives being thrown into (cyber) space without a real meaning behind those descriptions? I mean, every other band is "dark" in a way, especially people overuse this term where doom (metal) is concerned: dark this and dark that, so many "dark" bands, albums, that nothing else is out there. It's all darkness. Come on, are you kidding here?
The opposite should be much closer to the truth, actually. The number of albums that bear the true dark essence is minimal, is a drop of piss in a sea of shiny happy albums, doom or not doom.
Let me dwell in another petty issue for a moment. Although writing this review for a website called 'Doom-Metal dot com', I will claim that doom should not necessarily be followed by the 'metal' noun. Doom is a state of being, even momentarily, doom is pure emotions, negativity, doom is desolation, the mirror in the face of humanity, of things that are now, of things to come. Doom is a blend of mystique and harsh reality, and maybe the musical expression of how masochist the human race is...
Doom isn't metal, really. How many metal bands does anybody know, that manifest through their music all of the above mentioned?
Agamemnon is not a doom metal band. Agamemnon is not even a real band. It is a project by a gentleman who goes by the alias of Kharis. Most of the recorded material was written sometime between 1995 and 1996 only to be recorded in a revised manner in the year 2002.
Agamemnon plays what commonly is known as 'dark ambient' music, using only keyboards (I think) in a very simplistic, stripped-down, basic way.
Agamemnon produces sonic darkness.
'Angry beyond forgiveness' contains six tracks of the most minimal, nihilistic sounds I have heard in quite some time. Had I been younger, less patient, more narrow-minded, I would have dismissed this recording in one minute, and in a loathsome way too. One needs to be extremely patient to be able to slowly absorb the pure darkness contained therein, in an album that is no more than a trip to the cold chambers of the underworld, where it is not hot, where the pyres of hell do not burn bright, but where it is cold, where it is freezing, where the stench of dead things that had been encapsulated in icebergs and grey megaliths for eons, is hanging in the icy atmosphere.
Agamemnon does not really need to divide the album into tracks, as all the tracks sound pretty similar, as if it is one lengthy soundtrack, all one big lump of black rotting tissue, undivided, inseparable. If not for the one and a half seconds silence between tracks, one wouldn't have a clue as for the end of the former and the beginning of the later, and I think this whole recording must be regarded as a whole.
But why is 'Angry beyond forgiveness' so dark, as I claim it is? Kharis uses two complementary keyboard types simultaneously: The low, droning, dragging tones - as if it was a bass guitar playing those lines in the most peculiar manner - and the higher notes that are used for emphasis of the mood, or a guide to the scary excursion through landscapes unknown and that are better be left that way.
The low notes are nothing more than a first lesson in 'how to play the organ' meaning they are played on the octave note by note (do, re, mi, fa, so, la, si) and then downwards, only to be repeated once again, in an endless loop of notes going upward and downward, with a few exceptions here and there. They were recorded using reverb and some echoes, something that gives them this droning effect that only amplifies the desolation and nihilism on this recording.
The high notes play the narrative role, they add some "colour" to the droning, dragging low keys, and they too are played in sort of a repetitive loop, although much a longer one, a string of sounds that contains ten, maybe more, different notes.
One of the most striking facts about this style of playing the keyboard, is that this recording contains no chords, only single notes, note by note, up and down, down and up, loop after loop, the next loop of sounds is different from the former one by only a note or two. There isn't a single chord out there, nor are there any guitars, vocals or drums; just a foreboding emptiness, oceans-vast, colourless but the dancing grey shadows...
The effect is enormous. The tracks contain or generate this trance-like filling (and if there was such a thing like 'unearthly trance', not the band, it should have been applied to this album, to this musical style indeed) and with it, as the listening experience progresses, one realizes this "music" is highly addictive as well, although far from being easy listening, and this is an extreme understatement...
But why is it dark, or doom, or both? Have you seen Roman Polanski's 'The Pianist' motion picture? Remember the scene in the end of the movie where the pianist roams the ruins of the city? One single black-clothed human figure in the vast desolation of the city's ruined buildings, the grey skies, the hopelessness. Remember? Think of this album.
This is heaviness not in the common term of searing and crushing guitars, heavy pounding drums and monstrous vocals. This is more of an emotional and mental heaviness, in terms of uneasiness, of extreme melancholia and sorrow, this is a dirge to all that is dead, cold and lifeless. This is the sound of black clouds, crumbling structures, long atrocious shadows, rotting woods and dried out leaves. These are the sounds of the void, the black hole beyond which only nothingness awaits... While listening to this album I feel as if a heavy brick was put upon my heart, making the natural task of breathing, a very hard one. This is music not to be played, music that should be avoided. These sounds are harmful; the atmosphere is harsh and is on the verge of not being human at all, not played by anyone and consumed by none. I should have said: "avoid at all costs!" but I'll avoid this sentence, for music phenomenal such as this should be listened to, at least once, at least one time...
Highly recommended to the very patient listener, who seeks for the most desolate, minimal, even primitive keyboard-only drone/doom/ambient, and has lost his hopes that anything good will appear in the 'metal' side of the coin, in the near future. This is haunting, relentless, unforgiving darkness, my friend, on all its glorified ugliness, this music is fucking ugly...
Support this unique artist by all and any means, he deserves this!
Agamemnon / 3 Maple St. / Garden City, NY 11530-1812 / USA
1. Watchtowers of night
2. Queen Maeb's ride
3. Perseus' treachery
4. Horrors of the inquisition
5. Window through eternity's continuum
6. Desertion of the churchyard
Duration : Approx. 38 minutes
Visit the Agamemnon bandpage.