I’ve been closely following the progress of the Indian band Raat since the 2018 release of the projects’s debut EP (Once). The work of a single Delhi-based creator, S.R., who has been in involved in other solo endeavors, including Nightgrave, Raat’s music has displayed persistent connections to black metal, but without being hemmed in by black metal conventions. And so S.R. has also drawn upon other styles, some of which go beyond the bounds of metal altogether, to better channel the emotions that have inspired the sounds.
The animating emotions seem to vacillate between depressiveness and despair, on the one hand, and hope on the other, and the music is capable of being both intensely ravaging and unnerving as well as beautiful. In all of its changing phases, however, the music, as they say, always wears its heart on its sleeve, in ways that feel genuine and often poignant.
Raat’s latest creation is a new album named Raison D’être, which is set for release by the Italian label Flowing Downward on December 12th. It provides a contrast with Raat’s last album, Déraciné. As S.R. has commented, while that album “was quite distinct and warm sounding, the new album is at once decidedly heavier and darker in its atmosphere. In more ways than one, the sound portrays the present day calamity our world is crushed under. Simultaneously, it also maintains moments of rapture and euphoria.”
What we bring you today is the premiere of a song from the new album named “Aurora“, which now joins two other previously released tracks that are available for streaming in advance of the release date. It is certainly one of the darkest and heaviest songs on the album.
The song’s intensity builds gradually. Slow in its pacing at first, a wailing lead rises over gloomy abraded chords and tormented screams. A bleak mood quickly sets in, and strengthens even as the double-bass drums rumble, the riffing becomes more feverish, and the leads create a grieving, chiming sensation. The music’s intensity swells through hammering percussion, febrile bass lines, and waves of anguished tremolo’d guitar, and the song grows more devastated in its mood, though those chiming notes and sweeping cascades of beseeching and bereaved melody also become mesmerizing.
The screaming vocals have a wrenching, spine-tingling effect, but no less wrenching than the ghostly, crying leads or the torment and turmoil in the riffing. Near the end, the music seems to groan, becoming more oppressive — but then transforms as the tumult vanishes, replaced by a feeling of isolation and loneliness.
Yes, “Aurora” is unmistakably a dark and anguished song. Of the two other songs you can now check out below, “Dead Hearts” is also dark in its moods, but perhaps more immediately distraught in its feeling. Grand chords ring out in a seeming portrayal of tragedy on a vast scale, undergirded by a heavy bass pulse and booming drums. The song is also suffused with an atmosphere of mystery and unearthly, disturbing wonder, and of somber, glimmering beauty, creating a harrowing and heart-breaking spell through music that’s both lush and sorrowing.
“Envie” is yet another captivating song. The vocals are no less shattering in their shrieking intensity, but the soaring synths create visions of immersive, panoramic splendor, a feeling of brightness that perhaps stands on the precipice of hope, even if a Stygian well of despondency still looms below. The drumming is remarkably vibrant and diverse throughout, enhancing the song’s feeling of resilience bordering on defiance.
Raat gives credit to NƎkkomix for the mastering. On December 12th Flowing Downward will release the album on CD, with digital downloads also available, and vinyl editions will be ready to ship on December 28th. The darkness in the music is matched by the excerpt from John Martin’s The Deluge (1834) chosen for the cover.