A Pregnant Light, Death My Hanging Doorway, Colloquial Sound Recordings, cassette CSR016 (2012)
It’s a mystery to me that A Pregnant Light isn’t better known as the music here is not bad at all. Perhaps the APL man lives in the wrong part of the United States (Grand Rapids in Michigan – hmm, definitely the wrong end of the country these days, what with Detroit having gone bankrupt) to get much attention. As it is, this EP features the kind of intense and aggressive yet despairing music that might capture the frustration, anger and hopelessness of a generation of people feeling stiffed by their government, corporations and other institutions in society they had been taught to trust and which have betrayed that trust.
The EP demonstrates that APL is more than able to write and play very long tracks of varied music with a wide range of emotions, all united by a good sense of what elements tie together in one song : an introduction, the main body with an escalation of tension, a climax and a denouement leading to a coda. In a very long piece of music, there may be a number of climaxes and plateaux in-between. APL shifts smoothly from a quiet, almost acoustic beginning to furious and anguished post-metal fulminations with howling vocals lost in reverb and intense six-string work. The music dips from loud and angry to quiet and coiled up as if it must retreat and recover before unleashing another barrage of emotion. Angry fretwork in the riffing and melodies along with mysterious background feedback drones and ever-changing percussion rhythms alternate with soothing passages of laid-back acoustic guitar strumming and steaming electric guitar almost at-rest. Atmospheric effects add a feeling of unease and edginess during the quieter moments.
The vocal work might unfortunately be the weakest part of the recording as it’s set far back in the music and is covered over in echo so unless the music is very loud listeners may have some difficulty hearing the lyrics in the screams and haranguing. Good thing though is that the singing doesn’t detract very much from the intense music which, with its ebb and flow between contrasts of anger and tension on the one hand and more meditative moments suggesting vulnerability and despair on the other, paints a complex picture of hopelessness and desperation.
For many people, this EP will be an ideal introduction to an act that has considerable potential in depressive BM: the music embraces some very deeply felt emotions and is sure to resonate with many people unhappy with the warped direction society is travelling in at present. I should add though that APL’s songs usually revolve around ancient religion and dark ritual worship; the cassette cover artwork features mediaeval-art scenes that include groups of witches being burnt at the stake.
At this time of review, there were 100 copies of this tape and they have completely sold out. However there are other A Pregnant Light recordings, nearly all of them fairly short, along with other underground black metal band releases available at the Colloquial Sound Recordings website whose link appears below.
Contact: Colloquial Sound Recordings