Golden Light are a new band formed by E. Henderson (also of Njiqahdda), who handles all instruments and sounds, and vocalist Meghan Wood (Crown of Asteria). Their debut album, Sacred Colour of the Source of Light, will be released by Iron Bonehead Productions on April 24th. William Blake‘s painting “The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed in Sun” makes for a perfect cover, given the nature of the music.
Regarding that nature, Iron Bonehead’s publicist has written of these four songs (three of which are of significant length), “their spectral sorrows shoot a brilliance that’s blinding and bellicose in equal measure: a mystical, sun-drenched swarm of sound that embodies and defies black metal simultaneously, orthodoxy UN-done and recast”.
The tendency to portray the music in words used mainly for visual experience is irresistible (as you will see), but the music also has a near-relentless physical momentum that in itself becomes a method of creating a trance, as well as a multi-faceted effect on the emotions.
vinyl LP cover art
The principal ingredients of the music are relatively simple to name, because the music itself is relatively “stripped-down”. Golden Light combine a near-ceaseless, hammering rhythmic drive with a dense, yet not domineering, haze of abrasion, an array of ethereal keyboard accents that convey changing moods despite their unearthly aspect, and terrorizing vocals, which are also not dominating but sufficiently present to put the hackles up on your neck.
Simple enough to list, but the effect of them together is not so simple. The effects on the listener are instead more complex. They become a means of enthrallment, and of opening the imagination to visions of wonder and fear, of golden light and bestial bloodlust, of celestial mystery and the mad, pounding race of pursuit and escape.
The comparatively brief opening track, “Sceptre of Solar Idolatry“, is an effective introduction to this union of sensations. It relentlessly hurtles, propelled by a rapidly pumping percussive piston and a buzzing guitar tone, while gleaming melodic vapors waft above it, cycling through the song in mystical and mesmerizing fashion. Somewhere far away, horrid shrieks can be heard. At the end, the music becomes glorious, and perhaps even heavenly.
The array of tonalities in that opening song, which seem both sacred and profane, are fascinating. There is a ringing sensation to the music, as if it has been recorded inside a tubular bell. That sound is most pronounced in the bell-like peals within the song and its ethereal shimmering sounds, but the music also includes a thrusting, ramming physicality in addition to the relentless hammering percussion.
You had best get used to that clattering and piston-pounding percussive drive, because it is a dominant presence throughout most of the album, and it kicks into high gear again in “The Western Gate“. Frightening snarls, harrowing howls, vicious screams, and heartless roars appear again as well, giving the music an aspect of demons warring just outside the supernaturally-lit catacombs within which you feel the music’s presence. And there is again a surrounding sandblasting haze through which isolated melodic tones appear. Those tones are simple, yet sufficient to create an aura of otherworldly mystery, and in this track there is something in their timbre that is forlorn and bleak, and eventually wailing.
“Dawn of History” does seem to rise like the dawn over vast Sumerian plans, with shimmering ambient tones providing the growing brightness. And those celestial sounds continue to cast their wondrous shine over the music, joined by even more brilliantly glowing crystalline tones and by a warbling and wailing male voice that is exotic and ghostly in its sensation, like the expressions of a desert djinn wavering among vast dunes. The full-throttle percussion and crashing cymbals do have their place in this track, as does the scratchy abrasion of the riffing, but they come and go, and it is something like the soundtrack to a cosmic vista that ends the piece.
The longest song, which is the title track, closes the album. Like the preceding track, it too has a mysterious ambient opening but then leaps ahead, much as the first two songs do. As the drums hammer and the mesmerizing bass-pulse rises and falls, surrounded by that raw surrounding haze, the synths sound like an angelic host clothed in blinding light raising their voices in reverence and praise.
There is one brief break in the racing momentum, a break filled with disorienting electronic tones and perhaps human voices (also disorienting), and the sensations of the music also change, with horrifying vocals adding to the encroaching feelings of derangement and horror. The repetition of slow, pealing tones intertwined with ghastly whispers and far-away roars also create an atmosphere of ghostly, magical gloom which contrasts with the turbocharged rhythm — an electrifying pulse that continues to create its own kind of viscerally-sourced trance.
But apart from those preceding impressions, let’s let Golden Light describe themselves:
“A procession of the damned. By the damned, I mean the excluded… Battalions of the accursed, captained by pallid data that we have exhumed, will march. You’ll read them—or they’ll march. Some of them livid and some of them fiery and some of them rotten. Some of them are corpses, skeletons, mummies, twitching, tottering, animated by companions that have been damned alive. There are pale stenches and gaunt superstitions and mere shadows and lively malices: whims and amiabilities. The naïve and the pedantic and the bizarre and the grotesque and the sincere and the insincere, the profound and the puerile. The ultra-respectable, but the condemned, anyway…they will march. We have gone into the outer darkness of scientific and philosophical transactions and proceedings, ultra-respectable, but covered with the dust of disregard. We have descended into abyss and have come back with the quasi-souls of lost data… We will march.”
Iron Bonehead will release the album on CD and LP. A digital edition is available for pre-order now. Look for physical editions at the Iron Bonehead site on the April 24 release date.