Last September at NCS Andy Synn devoted the 125th edition of his Synn Report (here) to the discography of Minnesota-based Feral Light, whose music he recommended for fans of Tombs, Cobalt, and Wolvhammer. In Andy’s words, Feral Light (drummer Andrew Reesen and guitarist/vocalist Andy Schoengrund) “deal in a gritty, gruesomely groovesome brand of Black ‘n’ Roll which has, over the years, also developed an increasingly savage-yet-sombre (not to mention ever-so-slightly proggy) edge to it”.
The latest record in their discography as it existed at the time of Andy’s retrospective was the 2020 album Life Vapor, which he characterized as Feral Light‘s “darkest record yet”, a “more refined and more atmosphere-heavy album than either of its predecessors”, but also “even more focussed and ferocious”: “[F]or what it might lack (or sacrifice) in terms of bombastic hooks and swaggering attitude it more than makes up for in sheer intensity and potent staying-power, making for an overall more fulfilling, and no less thrilling, listening experience from start to finish.”
If you haven’t yet encountered Feral Light, you should definitely check out Life Vapor — but you really couldn’t go wrong with any of their albums. And thankfully, the band continue to forge ahead. On February 26th they will be releasing a new three-song EP named Ceremonial Tower, and today it’s our pleasure to premiere one of those three tracks — “Conjoint Lightlessness“.
Ceremonial Tower isn’t just a gap-filler before Feral Light‘s next album, whenever that might come, but represents (as we’ve been told) “a good bridge and foreshadowing into things to come.”
The song we’re presenting today, which opens the EP, is a multifarious experience, one that’s both brazenly ravaging and chillingly atmospheric. The experience begins with rabid vocals, hammering drums, pummeling bass, and sweeping waves of feverish yet soaring melody, redolent of both turmoil and ecstasy. The music shifts into more measured cadences (with greater prominence for the granite-heavy bass) and a display of even more glorious and frighteningly majestic sound, in which the lead guitar glimmers with extravagant but unsettling vividness. And both of these phases harbor melodic hooks that are enticing yet unnerving.
As the song proceeds, it becomes even more deranged and anguished in its mood, but as it begins to rhythmically jackhammer the listener’s skull it also becomes more hallucinatory. Eerie arpeggios and gleaming shimmers of sound squirm and drift through the pounding, and the guitar solo that rears its serpentine head is an eerie and menacing sensation, wailing and warping in skin-chilling fashion as it leads the track to a close.
This one is an otherworldly viper of a song that sinks its fangs into you, injects an intoxicating but poisonous venom, and is very difficult to dislodge. The EP’s other two songs, “Ceremonial Tower” and “Cold Ground” are both equally gripping, and reveal further dimensions of Feral Light‘s evolving sounds. The former is explosive, towering, and transfixing, with a prominent role for the band’s post-metal ingredients within its black metal framework. The latter is a heavy bone-smasher but it’s also a mind-twister, laced with pulse-pounding, trumpet-like fanfares, writhing, devilish arpeggios, and sorcerous, vaporous melody. One imagines being whirled through the confines of an infernal carnival, emerging breathless and bruised but with eyes wide in wonder and a fiendish smile from ear to ear.
In a nutshell, this is an exceptionally good EP, and a further sign of this duo’s adventurous talents in full bloom.
Ceremonial Tower will be released digitally and in a limited edition of 40 cassette tapes. Again, the release date is February 26th. You can place pre-orders now: