Category: Articles

Atrox Pestis – Exclusive Full Album Stream & Music Video Premiere

We are very pleased to share with you an exclusive preview of the new Atrox Pestis album, Hewn by the Hands of the Damned, set for release on Chryptus Records! Grant Richardson, the man behind Atrox Pestis is better known for his main project Gnawed. The death industrial project, Gnawed, has already released several acclaimed albums through Malignant Records as well as their own label, Maniacal Hatred. The full length debut of his dark ambient project Atrox Pestis is being released courtesy of Chryptus Records, an up & coming label which has already released albums by Strigae and Anthony Amelang.

The promotional video is an eight minute piece created by Grant Richardson himself, and complements the title track “Hewn by the Hands of the Damned”. Hewn by the Hands of the Damned releases January 5, 2018!

Album blurb by Chryptus Records:

“Mark 9:43
And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched

Genesis 1:6
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters

Who are “the damned,” the living or the dead, and which of these is the cruel plague? We have riven great scars in the surface of the planet. Each human age brings with it more terrible capabilities. Do we approach godhood, or something else? The ambivalence of the great powers of the universe is frightening.

Where Gnawed is the bloody heartbeat of humans crushed by their own creation, Atrox Pestis is that same barren world self-reflecting. Pristine bass, distant scrape, the rumination of a world luxuriating in deep, geological time. Those ambivalent forces have set about reshaping our world. What will be created next?

Hewn by the Hands of the Damned releases January 5, 2018!”

Read the review of Atrox Pestis‘ previous EP here.
Chryptus Records Facebook, Bandcamp, Twitter, Instagram
Atrox Pestis Discogs

Unsichtbar – Junges Liebespaar – Exclusive Music Video Premiere

This Is Darkness is pleased to present you with the exclusive premiere of the new music video for “Junges Liebespaar” the fourth track from the new album Erlebnis by Unsichtbar. The video was recorded and edited by Turkish experimental filmmaker Müge Yıldız with a LomoKino Super 35 camera. The full album is available on Bandcamp here.

Press Release:
Unsichtbar, a mysterious project from Lima (Peru), debuts with Erlebnis: a truly rich, minimalist, meditative, expressive, and emotional project, where the use of clarity mixed with distorted instrumentation invites the listener to drift into a moving, tenebrous, soul-filled place. The album contains somewhat noisy ambient music, which, rather than being built around structured compositions or clear melodies, floats around you like early morning fog. There are moments of clarity too, though, moments when a clear light shines through like a single ray of the sun piercing the dark clouds after a storm. Erlebnis was released November 17 digitally and on limited edition cassette through London-based record label ACR.

Trying to explain this project is kind of tricky since I created Unsichtbar, my alter ego, to make music without thinking too much. If I give too many details, I go back to myself, and that’s something I am trying to avoid. Here, I experiment with completely different and new sounds with the only intention of experimenting. No hidden messages, no complicated concepts, nothing at all. Just textures and sensations. That’s what ‘Erlebnis’ is about.


This Is Darkness Presents Vol.1 Dark Ambient Compilation

This Is Darkness is very proud to present to you the first of our compilations. This one has been in the works for about 8 months and has been a lengthy but exciting process. We are presenting you with 66 exclusive tracks, coming in at 7+ hours of music. This is a combination of some well known artists and some that are up & coming. The release is going up today as a pre-order for $5, 10 tracks available immediately. After release on 18 September, it will be changed to “name your price”. This way, if anyone wants the 8 preview tracks now, or just wants to go ahead and show some support, they can do so within the pre-order period. After that, you can decide how much, if anything, you want to pay for the release. Please enjoy, share the news with your friends and let us know what you think of the compilation! Pre-order available here.

Exclusive: New Asath Reon Track Revealed + Q&A

Asath Reon is the latest artist to join Black Mara Records. I’ve been following the progress of Michal Polgar, the man behind Asath Reon for several years now, and we’ve become friends over the process of many chats about dark ambient and related topics. Michal and Black Mara Records allowed This Is Darkness to publish an exclusive premiere of one track, “The Damned”  from the upcoming album Buried Visions which is set to release on 10 August 2017. I also decided to take this opportunity to pick Michal’s brain and give readers a bit of background on the music, the man and the message behind Asath Reon. I hope you will all enjoy!

“The Damned” by Asath Reon, from the upcoming album Buried Visions

Michael: Congratulations on the upcoming release on Black Mara. This looks like a pretty impressive debut. Are you happy with everything leading up to the release?

Asath Reon: Thank you Michael, I’m glad you have such a positive view on the release. Of course, I’m really happy about it. There were no difficulties or negatives in the creation process and I enjoyed working on it.

Michael: How would you classify the sounds of Asath Reon?

Asath Reon: Well, this is quite hard question. This music in general is characterized by most people as meditative, ritualistic, spiritual, or even ominous. But about the sounds its a bit different. The intention is to highlight the ritual instruments and their sounds. Classification of this is complicated, because their scale of use and their effects on the human psyché and beyond is very wide.

Michael: How long have you been into ritual/dark ambient music?

Asath Reon: I have been in this kind of music since 2013.

Michael: Is this your first endeavor as a dark/ritual ambient artist?

Asath Reon: No it´s not. When I discovered dark ambient music, I felt this is something more than music. I wanted to participate in it, because I knew there is a sea of feelings and thoughts to express. 2013 was the beginning, I had no project yet, just a few songs I put on Youtube. Then after that, a new project was born, named Morvranh. It was my first project, and in 2014 since there was support from many people who liked it, I continued to create music. Also, 2014 brought my first physical release, under the wings of Forest Path Records. Then there was a second project we were working on with Ruairi O´Baoighill named Order of the Black Dawn. This project had a physical release on the Noctivagant label. It was a pleasure to get in touch with people from various labels and also artists. Every person gave me inspiration and we were working on something very important for us, we were able to influence each other. I’m really glad for all of these experiences and the things we share. After all of this I realized that ritual ambient is something I really want to do, because it can evoke the deepest messages. That’s why Asath Reon was created. And I have to say, the approach to Asath Reon is much different from these other projects. My music-creation process has improved since 2013 and that’s why I can focus on recordings of, lets say “ritualistic” experiences, the things going on are much more complex. This word, ritualistic, is just an idea. With my improved skills in music-creation, I am able to produce sounds that can give a whole new concept to the songs.

Michael: What sorts of hardware was used in the creation of Buried Visions?

Asath Reon: There are a lot of instruments. I used two of my kangling trumpets, singing bowls in combination with bowed singing bowls, percussions, drums, chimes, mouth harp, other metallic objects, conch shell, vajra-shaped bell and more. As for the hardware, I used IC recorder with a studio microphone connected with two adapters, my laptop with DAW, keyboard, lots of plugins and of course my voice.

Michael: How long have you been working on Buried Visions?

Asath Reon: I started to work on it in 2016. But the concept was in my head earlier than this. The idea and specific way of expression of the whole project were things that needed to be here before the actual recording process could begin.

Michael: Is there a particular meaning behind the name Asath Reon?

Asath Reon: Yes, but it´s very subjective and has a deep meaning only to a very small, secret group of people in my country.

Michael: Do you expect future releases to follow the format of this album? Or, do you think that you will move into new territory for your next release?

Asath Reon: I’m glad for this question. I have to say, that for releasing this album with its whole idea and concept, working with the Black Mara label was simply the best decision. After Dmitrij, from Black Mara Records, asked me about it, I knew this would be the best suited home for the Asath Reon project. It was not because of how nicely Black Mara are doing their physical releases. It was about the treatment of ideas, the way of approach to the mentioned concepts, eye for art and what would be the best solution for the variety of aspects during the whole releasing process.

Michael: Can you explain a little bit about the physical release, as it comes with a handmade book?

Asath Reon: The album comes with a booklet of photos which I made, and a pendant with the eye used in the symbol of Asath Reon. All of the photos are thematically on one wave. They depict ritual objects, places, and archaeological finds along with a combination of old cultish ideas, funerary rites, and necromancy. That’s what the project is about. The photos give a better idea of the topic and the music. With the photos you can hear the music deeper and with the music you can see the meanings of the pictures.

Michael: How has your experience been so far working with Black Mara?

Asath Reon: I wish I could thank Dmitrij and all the Black Mara family enough for supporting the project. The road to release from the beginning of the Asath Reon idea was accompanied by many conversations with Dmitrij, who has always been very pleasant and helpful. I’m really happy about it and we are still in contact and have become good friends. We have the same perceptions of art, music and many other things. He and Black Mara are doing a wonderful job, and as I said in a previous question, all of the positive attributes should be known in the wide spectrum of music and ideas they are giving to people.

Michael: Do you have any musical influences that have had an impact on Asath Reon?

Asath Reon: Of course. There were plenty of artists and projects I used to listen and influenced me in thinking. I would mention Jindøich Spilka from Druhá Smrt, Endvra, Funerary Call, the Aural Hypnox label, Kammarheit, Metgumbnerbone, Vidna Obmana, and many many others.

Michael: What is the perfect environment for listeners to enjoy your music, alone in the dark, during meditation, etc.?

Asath Reon: This is very subjective, but worth trying at least one time is in the woods, or in a calm enviroment at night, in a calm state of mind, with concentration and with a good set of headphones.

Michael: Are there any rituals you perform in preparation for creating music? Such as burning incense, meditation, intoxication, invoking a god, etc.

Asath Reon: Yes. Most of the sounds were recorded whilst I was performing a ritual. Mostly it was recorded in the woods, on the place you can see on the picture in the booklet, or in the video teaser. I also use incense, and create in a dark environment, mostly at night, when I’m ready to compile the recordings. There are also several natural entheogenics involved in the rituals, but they are used occasionally, because of everything that they can tell and everything that needs to be ripened in the head. That’s why they are only used occasionally and during these times I can’t record anything and I have to be in a “clear environment” to understand the meanings. These kind of rituals produce much more than mere recordings.

Michael: Thanks for your time, I will leave the final words to you!

Asath Reon: Thank you too Michael. It was a pleasure and I wish good vibes for you and for all the readers.

Asath Reon links: Facebook, Bandcamp
Black Mara Records links: Facebook, Bandcamp, VK

Conarium – Lovecraftian Videogame Review

Developer: Zoetrope Interactive
Publisher: Iceberg Interactive
Release date: 6 June 2017
Platforms: PC (Steam) / XboxOne / PS4

Conarium is a first person puzzle horror adventure game created by Zoetrope and Iceberg Interactive. Zoetrope previously known for their Darkness Within series have returned to the same genre with a much more ambitious title in Conarium. Conarium builds its background upon a framework of elements straight from the stories of H.P. Lovecraft. Incorporating much of his lore from use of settings to stories of the origins of our planet, Conarium becomes the perfect game for even the most dedicated of Lovecraft readers.

The game takes the perspective of Frank Gilman, one of a crew of scientists working to uncover some ancient hidden knowledge. The team has gone to Antarctica to follow in the footsteps of the ill-fated expedition that featured in the H.P. Lovecraft novella, At The Mountains Of Madness. Gilman and crew are searching for clues to unlock the secrets of an ancient device called the conarium. As the story progresses and the history of the device begins to unfold, Gilman finds himself in an elaborate and maddening set of circumstances.

Quite a few games throughout the years have been marketed as “Lovecraftian”, yet rarely do they go much deeper into the lore than calling some squid creature Cthulhu or imagining some world filled with other varieties of tentacled creatures. Zoetrope have proven that their understanding of Lovecraft’s lore goes much deeper than the usual fare. At every turn in Conarium there are numerous references to Lovecraft’s work. From something as simple as a fleeting mention of the Necronomicon to much more elaborate constructs. The story behind Conarium brilliantly builds itself around the concepts originally mapped out in At The Mountains Of Madness. We find ourselves in an era accurate depiction of an Antarctic scientific base. The developments that took place during Lovecraft’s novella have direct influence on the story of Conarium.

While the game clearly focuses most heavily on its relation to At The Mountains Of Madness, avid Lovecraft readers will find a plethora of references to other Lovecraft stories. Early in the game, we experience elements taken straight from The Whisperer In Darkness. Not just allusions to the story, but actual concepts that were laid out by Lovecraft directly influence Gilman’s adventure to uncover the ancient lost knowledge of the conarium devices. In other instances smaller details like statues of creatures which had been described by Lovecraft are brought to life by the game’s artists. Ancient civilizations from all over the planet are woven into the story, pulling lore from Lovecraft’s many settings all the while.

The game-play is almost entirely puzzle and story driven, a highly interactive walking-simulator. There are quite a few puzzles throughout the game to be solved. While I am utterly terrible at these sorts of things, Conarium manages to find a very nice balance, being challenging while not making the player want to scream in frustration. When the puzzles are completed it makes for a highly rewarding experience and certainly gives a feeling of accomplishment. I did look to walk-throughs on Youtube several times throughout the game. I probably could have figured each of these things out had I given it enough time and thought a little harder, but for me the story is much more important than the puzzle challenges.

As the story unfolds, Gilman crosses quite an impressive number of settings. Don’t expect to be constantly wandering around the same location throughout the entire game. Each new “chapter” of the game leads the player into a wholly different place, some indoors, where display cases are filled with replicas of weird creatures and libraries offer ample opportunity to read further into the story. Phonograph machines, strewn letters and journals, visions and other mechanics deliver an in depth back-story to Conarium. While other parts of the narrative take place outdoors, whether in the frigid Antarctic environment or in some lush otherworldly landscape. Many interesting tidbits will only be uncovered by searching deeper into each of the locations.

I completed the game, in about ten hours. It could likely have been done in 6-8 hours, maybe even less by more experienced puzzle gamers. But, as a fan of games like The Elder Scrolls series, I prefer to take my time, fully absorbing the locations and reading all the provided back-story at my leisure. Then there is the aforementioned fact that I am really slow at figuring out most puzzles, though they never truly drove me insane as has been the case with many of my other experiences in games with similar mechanics. There are several endings, only one of which I’ve seen so far. Uncovering roughly 75% of the content by my first completion, there are still many more secret items to uncover, and about 1/3 of the story left to read as I only found about 2/3 of the journal entries and other story elements. So there is still quite a lot of reason for me to go back through the game again in the future and dig deeper into these mysteries.

While the game was released in June of 2017, the graphics have enough flexibility to run on relatively low-end machines, where many current game developers are opting to push the limits of gaming technology, usually alienating those of us without a high-end PC. Yet, their use of the Unreal Engine 4 will still allow avid gamers to really push the graphics for a beautiful and immersive experience in this world that truly comes alive throughout the story. The ambient sounds are relatively well prepared, though on this front I did notice a few areas that could have been improved, such as the transitions from walking on dry stone or wood floors then across puddles or other forms of debris. But this was only a minor gripe and ultimately the sounds were quite immersive. I played 50/50 between using the mouse and keyboard or an Xbox 360 controller. Both forms of input were totally viable options, though I ended up preferring the Xbox 360 controller as it generally seemed to be a little more immersive for my slower play style.

Conarium doesn’t rely so heavily on the Lovecraft lore that players unfamiliar with his work would feel lost. The developers did a good job of building relevant Lovecraft references into the story in a way that felt natural. However, as a huge fan of H.P. Lovecraft and having read just about every story he’s written or revised at this point, I found the more subtle references to his works really added to my enjoyment of and immersion in the game. With this in mind, I would highly recommend Conarium to any gamers that enjoy reasonably complicated puzzle games and have a true passion for the works of H.P. Lovecraft. There are enough adventure elements and varied locations to hold the interest of those of us whom grow bored reasonably quickly without constantly stimulating content. It really seems that Zoetrope took all their experience with their previous games and built upon it, bringing their work closer to perfection. Instead of diving into some unknown game style, a habit of many companies, which often leaves their inexperience obvious for all to see, and can ultimately destroy the immersion and render the game-play lacking in depth, cohesion and/or playability. I hope to see more similarly styled games from Zoetrope in the future. They are certainly on the right track.

Written by: Michael Barnett

Northaunt & Svartsinn – The Borrowed World – Analysis

Artists: Northaunt & Svartsinn
Album: The Borrowed World
Inspired by: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

01. Northaunt – If Only My Heart Were Stone
02. Svartsinn – Ashes of the Late World

Dark ambient musicians find inspiration for their work from an infinite number of places. Some will stare out over a foggy landscape and become inspired. Others will find motivation in their favorite horror film. Still others will find inspiration in the depths of their subconscious, allowing their night terrors to enter reality. Often these things will mix and mingle in the mind of any given artist. One need not attach all inspiration to some set category.

The Road, a post-apocalyptic novel by Cormac McCarthy, has lent inspiration to a number of dark ambient players. Yet, no where more strongly or directly than on the instant classic The Borrowed World, a split by Northaunt and Svartsinn.

The Borrowed World features only two tracks, one each from the to aforementioned artists. In the twenty minute span of each track, what we dark ambient fans are presented with is nothing short of perfection. Perfection. Yes this is a strong word to use, yet if there were anywhere that I would place this certification, it is surely on The Borrowed World.

Hærleif Langås of Northaunt and Jan Roger Pettersen of Svartsinn have a friendship going back many years, to the beginnings of their dark ambient careers. We can trace the physical evidence of this friendship all the way back to 2000, when Svartsinn, releasing his debut album Devouring Consciousness, shows his deep respect for Northaunt in his acknowledgements in the album liner notes.

Sharing the city of Trondheim, Norway as their homebase, and sharing a very similar musical style, which was exceedingly rare in these times, makes perfectly good sense in the establishment of this friendship. Over the years this bond has only continued to grow and while they never shared a project, they often would share a stage, a record label, in Cyclic Law, and always a hometown.

So when Loki Foundation‘s sub-label Power & Steel came along in 2010 asking these two musicians to participate in a split, destined for release on vinyl, their acceptance seemed obvious. What came about over the next few years of preparation would become on of the most beautiful dark ambient releases post-Cold Meat Industry.

To understand what The Borrowed World is all about we must first understand the common thread between the two artists. The Road, a post-apocalyptic novel by the renowned author Cormac McCarthy. The Road follows a man and his young son through a world that is lost. Devastation presents itself to them at every turn. The struggle to wake the next morning and keep fighting for life is existentially hard for them to grasp.

We don’t know what ruined Earth in years before the narrative. We only know that it is a scorched, barren, gray shell of its old self. The Earth itself is dying or already dead, and the people still left to wander its carcass are equally doomed. In one description, McCarthy writes:

“The country was looted, ransacked, ravaged. Rifled of every crumb. The nights were blinding cold and casket black and the long reach of the morning had a terrible silence to it. Like a dawn before battle.”

The bleak outlook of the protagonists is often best described through the father’s reminiscence. Thinking back to a conversation with his deceased wife we are presented with this exchange:

“We’re survivors he told her across the flame of the lamp.
Survivors? she said.
What in God’s name are you talking about? We’re not survivors. We’re the walking dead in a horror film.”

As you may now realize, the tone of this novel is exceptionally forlorn. The descriptions of the land are vivid, even as their subject is gray and dull. With this as their mutual subject, Northaunt and Svartsinn began preparing their tracks for The Borrowed World.

Hærleif Langås relates how the concept took shape:

“I was recommended the book by Jan, and took it with me on buses and cafes to read. The book is an easy read but beneath the stark and minimal dialog and the brutal but also poetic descriptions of a world that has fallen apart you sense a really profound issue or question is being asked. And this is what I think makes it much more than just another post apocalyptic themed book, not just entertainment but a concealed statement and question about who we are and what the world could come to, if everyday life really was dependent on our humanity (and what is that?), unregulated by laws. Jan and I both loved the book and decided to make it a theme when Loki approached us with an offer to release a split LP back in 2010.”

Both artists’ tracks are deeply emotional and infinitely moving. Northaunt took on a style reminiscent of his earlier masterwork, Horizons. The track gently flows and morphs. There are no vocals or film clips present. Starting as a deeply atmospheric style, Northaunt paints a picture of this barren landscape. We can feel the cold winds rushing across our faces. We can taste the fine particles of ash sting our eyes and dry our tongues.

Yet, as we move into the second half of “If Only My Heart Were Stone”, the soundscapes take an emotional turn. We move from dull gray vistas into the mind of the protagonist. The father struggles with a key dilemma throughout the novel: Is it better to commit a murder / suicide and end the suffering of himself and his child, or should they continue to fight for life, even if there seems to be no chance of respite. Northaunt makes it possible for us to feel those emotions. “If Only My Heart Were Stone” moves from those barren soundscapes into his most introspective and emotional work to date.

Jan Roger Pettersen of Svartsinn also gives us an idea of the processes behind the creation of The Borrowed World and his first encounters with The Road:

“I was playing a concert in Prague with Tholen. On the way home, I had a lot of time at the airport, so I decided to check the book store. Normally I never check books that says “Now A Major Movie” on the cover, but somehow I found myself reading the back and the “short reviews” found on the book cover, which made it seem interesting. I didn’t know the author from before, but had heard about another movie that apparently came from one of his books (No Country For Old Men, which I hadn’t seen yet either). The book was on sale, so I guess I decided to peak a bit inside as well… BOOM, I was hooked just after reading the first paragraph, totally captivating from the beginning to the end. I was about half way into the book by the time I was home in Trolla.

When the book was done I recommended it to Hærleif, who totally had the same affection for the book and read it equally fast. And we had a chat one late evening about it and how well this theme could fit the dark ambient atmosphere.

I guess it was pure luck and coincidence, but not too long after that we both found ourselves at the Phobos Festival (as performers) and had a nice chat with the good guys of Loki Foundation and they offered us to release a split vinyl on their label. Hærleif and I glanced at each other and I guess we both knew what we wanted to do. And not many hours after that we were already discussing and planning over a few bottles of Köstritzer black ales in the backstage area.”

Svartsinn takes these similar themes and moves in a different direction with his soundscapes. If Northaunt presented the coldest nights, filled with stinging snow storms which tore at the skin of the protagonists, Svartsinn illustrates the calmer ones. He taps into contemplative evenings, times when the filthy travelers found a bit of peace. Warm days, stomachs finally absorbing some calories. A false sense of contentment is present throughout “Ashes of the Late World”. Even as the father finds his next large cache of supplies, he still coughs blood. Even as the son sips a can of Coca-Cola, he still knows it may be the last one on Earth.

“Ashes of the Late World” may even be considered a reflection of the mindset of the son, more so than that of the father. There seems to be a naivety present. There is a beauty in every moment of the track. This beauty is greatly pronounced by the use of live cello instrumentation incorporated into the track, by cellist Amund Ulvestad. But this beauty is contrasted with a harsh reality, an ever-looming cold and darkness.

Svartsinn opts to incorporate a few samples from the movie adaptation of the novel into his track. We hear the father describe those last moments with his wife. Then, moments later, we hear the son crying out, “Papa! Papa!” in a sickly heart-wrenching whimper. As the last major events of the album, these clips tear at the heart, leaving the listener in a sullen state of mind.

It is little surprise that these two artists decided to adapt The Road to their dark ambient stylings. Both clearly had a love for and deep understanding of the novel. Both artists had the years of experience as musicians to coax those bleakest of emotions from their sounds, evoking a sense of despair in the listeners as fervent as that of McCarthy’s narrative. As if all this weren’t already enough, Simon Heath of Cryo Chamber prepared the artwork for the album, giving it that much needed dull and cold depiction, while A. Wahnmann, of the much respected Secretlab, performed the duty of mastering the album.

Every dark ambient fan should experience this masterpiece. Listening to it in the 100+ range, I still feel those same emotions that I felt on my first listen. The album played on repeat the whole time I re-read the novel for the purpose of this article, and I will still be happy to hear it yet again when I finish.

Written by: Michael Barnett

The Dark Ambient Community At Large

I have come to realize several things about the dark ambient genre and its greater community, which I would like to share with you. If anyone disagrees with me, I am always happy,  to debate these topics or any topics in which I’m passionate, for that matter.

First off, I’m sure this will be a given for many, but when I say “darkness”, I do not exclusively mean spooky. Darkness in the context of dark ambient manifests itself in a variety of ways.  The heartbreak of a lost love, a peaceful walk through the woods on a cool evening, extra-terrestrial lifeforms visiting our planet, a crackling fire inside an arctic cabin, and a mental tour of the cosmos can all be as equally dark experiences as the man locked inside a cell, hallucinating as he falls further into an institutionalized insanity or the raising of evil spirits by means of  seance or satanic ritual. The greatest common denominator here seems to be a sense of solitude.

Now may be the greatest time to be a fan of dark ambient. There are a plethora of new projects releasing every month. This is truly beautiful, because many of the veteran artists and trailblazers for the genre are still planted firmly in the center of the scene. While new projects crop up around the globe, veteran artists, like Simon Heath of Cryo Chamber and Frederic Arbour of Cyclic Law, are doing everything in their power to keep the momentum moving. Cold Meat Industry, a benchmark label for the genre of dark ambient, may be gone, but a number of equally, if not more, suitable labels have cropped up around the globe. Add to this the advent of Bandcamp, a website which has irreversibly changed the face of underground music, and dark ambient artists are more poised than ever to make a splash in the musical world.

Considering the global scale of this musical movement, it can be quite surprising to realize how much these artists have in common on a personal level. Having talked to many of the leading artists in the genre over the last few years, it has become apparent to me that a love for nature and darkness is almost unanimous. There is a sort of timidness to the genre, a sense of realization that we are not the makers or keepers of our universe. In many cases we aren’t even the keepers of our own livelihoods, personae, or mortality. This humbling realization may or may not have been a defining factor from the very beginning, but by this point in the genre’s evolution it seems to be a given.

As these artists do seem to have so many common interests, it is no wonder that we are seeing more and more collaborative work. We aren’t just seeing collaborations between artists who live in the same town, no, absolutely not. The way in which dark ambient artists are collaborating on a global scale just might be a first for the musical community. I honestly can’t think of another genre which has such a global yet close knit community of artists.

This humble nature also seems to seep into many of the geopolitical topics covered by the genre. Dark ambient albums are significantly less likely to show active signs of aggression toward anyone or anything, instead we often fall into the roll of the oppressed. Take the topic of the apocalypse, one that seems to have been beat to death by the genre and yet manages to continue to feel fresh and relevant. The scenario usually goes: Our governments have corrupted our politics, our waters, and our atmosphere. Now that our brief window of cultural and technological paradise has passed, what is left for us? Many an album answers this question from their own unique perspective. Yet, very few artists within the dark ambient framework ever take on the role of the oppressor. We are not the ones doing the destroying, we are the ones who have been destroyed. We can also look at examples of polar dark ambient type albums, which often depict a frozen planet, maybe right after the dinosaurs, or during our last minor ice age, when humanity had not yet discovered all the tools to destroy each other and our world, at a staggering pace. Conversely, we could be witnessing a planet which has succumbed to a nuclear-induced ice age. Again, in these albums we are looking at a sort of innocence lost, or maybe even an innocence rediscovered. A time and place in which the hunt, staying warm, and surviving are the utmost concerns.

Another telling sign of this union of minds is the prevalence of atheism within the community. Yes, there are many believers in old religions often heavily associated with nature, but even these people share many of the same feelings toward popular religions, persecutions, and general ignorance or naivety. It’s as if we have all been oppressed and therefore we respect the fragility of others. Yet this often can become more of a cautionary tale against collective ignorance than a call to peace. It would seem that many dark ambient artists have a live and let live mentality. There is rarely ever a political motivation behind these cautionary stories, as you might expect from, say, neo-folk artists. It seems like the popular sentiment is: go ahead and destroy the planet, but if you do, this is what you can expect. At a time when political opinions are extremely polarizing, this is probably the best for the longevity and continued collaboration of the genre.

Maybe a combination these similarities in viewpoints are why the community has done such a great job of coming together and respecting one another. I have yet to see any animosity from one dark ambient artist to another. Aside from Lustmord, who would, of course, prefer to be considered the one and only when it comes to this genre. Where else in the world can you currently find a niche, where Americans, Russians, Greeks, Swedes, Aussies, and Persians all come together under one peaceful banner, not to start some sort of revolution, but to enjoy the talents and company of one another. The template set here is truly impressive and could probably teach a few important lessons to other aspects of culture and the global consciousness.

Written by: Michael Barnett

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