Dismal – When Light Left Us (Self-Released)

Thursday, 16th August 2018
Rating: 8.5/10

As the way these name changes tend to go, Pennsylvania-based Burn the Empire decided to adopt the name of Dismal after their last full-length release (The Iconoclast). With the accompanying name change, of course some stylistic changes are in order, but have no fear. The appropriately named Dismal may be a bit glum, but have some clear potential with this new venture in sound.

While death metal is obviously the order of the day, Dismal sits in a more unique spot than some may initially think. The heaviness is there, but it’s not so much aggression as it is sorrow and melancholy. But atop of that, there’s a new springboard for some melodies. No one is going to shout ‘melodeath’ at the band, but the points of alluding atmosphere on their previous material have been more fully realized here. Each of these tracks have their own personality to them in mixing the morose with melody. “L’appel Du Vide” sets the tone for this more atmospheric approach, and “Fractured, Perpetuum” feels like a journey of longing. Even as the blasts and riffing pick up speed, the sorrow is strong, enhanced by melodies and some excellent soloing as the song moves along. The riffs of “Colorless” lean towards some of the EP’s most headbangable moments, but clean guitar still brings in plenty of melodic tones and emotional residue. Said feeling carries into the closer, “The Sun Vanished,” where heaviness combines with some catchy riffs and strong bittersweet emotions.

There’s been some clear progression in what Dismal is doing on When Light Left Us. It’s less bruising than much of the death metal world, but it carries just as much of an impact. With emotionally-heavy death metal seemingly on the rise, Dismal is in a prime position to lead the way if they continue along on this path.

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