I personally love the fact that the sheer amount of black metal (and adjacent) bands out there today with a crisp production puts the widely used and ignorant misconception that all black metal is recorded in a cave on a toy microphone to rest. While those stereotypes do originate from a place of truth, the genre has grown and expanded beyond that, leaving those ‘lo-fi’, antiquated black metal bands to be in the vast minority. Anyone who still uses that claim to discredit black metal as a whole is clearly out of touch and has zero clue what they’re talking about, as there are a plethora of bands that have pushed and are still pushing the genre forward, most having a sparkly clean production value that is as gorgeous to listen to as it is dastardly sinister.
From bands like Deafheaven to Ellende, Violet Cold to Firtan, and Agalloch to Esoctrilihum (just to name a few), it is safe to say that black metal is in a safe place, although it is more accurate to say that it is thriving. I won’t dismiss the fact that there are a hearty handful of subpar bands that fall under the same umbrella of black metal, but there isn’t a genre or subgenre in which that doesn’t apply; there are always duds. As we’re on the topic of black metal, I want to now focus on a one-man project that I recently stumbled upon that really piqued my interest, Wounds of Recollection. For the Deafheaven fans out there wishing they had kept a little more heaviness in their sound whilst still embracing the warm shoegaze tones and soundscapes, Warm Glow at the End of Everything is for you.
From the moment the record opens up with the warm synths on “Pale Blue Light”, I am reminded to take a moment to ground myself back to reality, helping me to not worry about things that are not worth worrying about. The luscious reverb-drenched guitars cascading into the song are the musical equivalent of closing my eyes and taking a deep breath, as sometimes you consciously need to take a second to take that deep breath or, in this case, let yourself get sucked into the music. Either way, the end result is you let yourself get temporarily distracted and forget about the things that may be ailing you. Even if just for a moment, it makes a world of difference, as can it help give you perspective on the things that you may be excessively worrying about. Long story short, from the get-go with “Pale Blue Light”, the airy and vulnerable musical landscapes convince you to let your guard down and let the song resonate from deep within.
Tracks like “Pale Blue Light”, “Vacancy”, “Leo Minor”, and “Rapture” are all so grand in scope with seamless ebb and flow between gorgeously sweet synth work and atmospherics, soaring guitar leads, and cavernous shrieks. Especially notable on the brief interlude, “Golden Claws”, you’ll find these serene ambient breaks very similar to the custom soundtrack you’d hear in the Duffer Brothers’ Stranger Things for example, providing somewhat of a retro, nostalgic vibe. The overall pacing of Warm Glow at the End of Everything is very methodical in its execution, leaving a perfectly symmetrical record that only aids the listening experience considering the hulking tracks peppered throughout. Each half of the record is made up of two highly dynamic post-rock/blackgaze epics with a more ‘conventional’ heavy track sandwiched in between the two, leaving only the wistful “Golden Claws” to act as a palate cleanser before moving onto the next half of the album. Despite being pre-calculated in that regard, it all still feels incredibly organic and a joy to follow along with.
There are a few moments throughout the record in which the heavier passages do leave a little to be desired, such as the doomy chugfest that is “Crushing Weight of Empty Space”. This isn’t to say that all of the more ‘metal’ moments on this record are lackluster; there are plenty of black metal/blackgaze passages that are as filthy as they are effective and fit their respective songs. It’s just that when Wounds of Recollection tries to keep the tempo slow but get heavy as all hell, the riffs themselves feel very primitive and simple. All that being said, it is clear that the dreamy post-rock/shoegaze/ambient passages are where Wounds of Recollection truly shine, as it instills so much unexplained nostalgia upon first listen that I find myself coming back to time and time again.
For a one-man project, I am beyond impressed with how this album turned out as it did, as it feels like at least five people’s worth of love and attention went into crafting this moving piece of music. Warm Glow at the End of Everything is musical balm for the soul, taking you to simpler times and momentarily distracting you from our hopelessly bleak world that appears to get even more hopeless with each passing day. I implore you to give this record a listen, especially since it is name-your-own price on Bandcamp. Who can say no to free music, especially when it is as high quality as Wounds of Recollection? Rhetorical question, now go listen to some mesmerizing tunes.