Mar 132023

(Andy Synn continues his long-standing relationship with Downfall of Gaia)

I still remember the first time I saw Downfall of Gaia live. To say I was blown away would be an understatement.

Of course, perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised. I had, after all, only recently declared their third album, Aeon Unveils the Throne of Decay, to be one of the best records of 2014 (a decision I still stand by).

In the years since then I’ve seen the band several times more – each time, arguably, even better than the last – and they’ve produced a further two (soon to be three) more albums, including another potential classic (only time will tell) in the form of 2019’s Ethic of Radical Finitude.

And now it looks like they’re about to add a third top-tier, A-list release to their catalogue in the form of their sixth full-length release, Silhouettes of Disgust, which comes out this Friday.

There’s always been something almost “Post-Apocalyptic” about Downfall of Gaia‘s particularly poignant brand of “Post-Black Metal” (if that’s even the right term to use – let’s not argue about genre descriptors now), and that remains the case throughout Silhouettes of Disgust.

But it’s not the action-packed apocalypse of mutants and muscle cars of Mad Max, or the grim, trudging march towards the grave of something like The Walking Dead. It’s a quieter, more contemplative cataclysm – closer, perhaps, to current media darling The Last of Us in its focus on loss and regret and the need to find moments of humanity even as the world around us falls apart.

This, to my ears at least, is even more apparent on the band’s new album, where it’s often these self-same moments of calm and contemplation – the echoing desolation of the bridge during “The Whir of Flies”, the bleak beauty with which the first half of “Eyes to Burning Skies” unfolds, the electric, anticipatory hush before the cathartic climax of “Optograms of Disgust” – which have the biggest impact.

That’s not to say, of course, that Silhouettes… is in any way lacking in fire or ferocity, by any means. Especially not when tracks such as blazing opener “Existence of Awe” or the simultaneously brooding-yet-blast-driven “Bodies As Driftwood” possess such a fierce sense of urgency and undeniable emotional energy.

It’s simply that, having established themselves as a band more than willing to cut themselves open, right down to the bone, and throw absolutely everything they have at every track (drummer Michael Kadnar in particular continues to sound as though there’s not an ounce of sweat, or a drop of blood, left in his body after each and every performance) it’s even more striking when, and where, they choose not to.

Of course, this isn’t entirely new – Downfall of Gaia have always made room for more atmospheric and introspective passages in amongst their dynamic (and that’s the key word here) deluge of raw emotion and raging audio intensity – but it feels like they’ve never gone as far into the silence, embracing stillness as a perfect counterpoint to their near-constant forward momentum, as they do here.

Maybe it seems a little odd to be lavishing so much time and attention on the moodier and more meditative side of this album – especially when it contains songs as thrilling and as thunderous as “While Bloodsprings Become Rivers” and “Final Vows”.

But, to me at least, there’s no better way to give an impression of the record’s diversity and dynamism than to highlight the lengths the band will go to, the extremes they’ll stretch towards – not just in terms of speed and volume, but in their willingness to slow things down and let the quiet speak even more loudly – than this.


  1. I only have to wait two days to hear the rest. It’ll be a nice to have the weekend to play it a bunch. I’m looking forward to it.

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