Sunday, August 5, 2012

Destroyer of Light - 'S/T'

Over the last several decades Texas has produced some heavy-hitters in the music scene dating back to the saccharine, early pop-rock sounds of Buddy Holly or the freak-out psychedelic scene of the 60’s with the likes of The 13th Floor Elevators, The Golden Dawn, and Cold Sun. It seems as if The Lone Star State has never lifted its finger from the pulse of the purveyors of the outlandish as illustrated by such noise acts of the 80’s and 90’s like the Butthole Surfers or Cherubs to the current psychedelic resurgence concentrated around Austin, Texas. While the state has been called home by luminaries of the psychedelic and noise scenes, it has also birthed many notable doom acts such as Elliott’s Keep, Las Cruces, and the mighty Solitude Aeturnus.  What does all of this have to do with Destroyer of Light? Well, the band, for the most part, plays a gritty form of traditional doom metal, but it’s slightly colored with a wash of feedback driven noise—particularly during song intros—and unique, often over-the-top vocals.

Destroyer of Light’s debut is a grim, dark journey into the depraved depths of the occult and the dark side of human nature. “Greet Death” sets the album in motion and takes the listener straight to the abyss with a plodding, Sabbathian riff to witness the fate and ultimate demise of a serial killer. The song also serves as an introduction to the varied vocal delivery of singer/guitarist Steve Colca. Sound-wise, Colca’s voice has a slight nasal quality akin to Hour of 13’s Phil Swanson, but Colca mixes things up for better or worse by switching between straight-forward singing, lackadaisical locution, and death growls.

Continuing with the album’s grisly subject matter, “The Virgin” tells the tale of summoning forth the dark lord through virgin sacrifice and boasts one of the album’s catchiest choruses. “So Divided”, the third track, possesses the most groove of all the songs and showcases Colca’s most soulful vocal delivery. Lyrically, the song sticks out like a sore thumb as it addresses socioeconomic issues of inequality opposed to dealings with the devil or the blood of virgins. A sample from Majestic Pictures’ ‘The Vampire Bat’ opens the fourth track, “Coffin Hunter”—a song about? You guessed it…hunting vampires. “Coffin Hunter” musically is the weakest track on the album. The riffs just aren’t as doomed-out or memorable as the other five outings. At six and a half minutes in length, “The Swamp” is the albums’ longest track and it feels it. Initially it competes with “Greet Death” as the album’s strongest track and includes some swirling, psychedelic noise, but suffers from overstaying its welcome by limping along for far too long. A bluesy guitar lick, tambourine, and feedback driven noise sets-up “Asteroid”, a strong, no frills, up-tempo album closer that has an odd, but welcome, sci-fi bent and a main guitar riff quite similar to “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”.

From a musical standpoint the album works completely due to the strength of the players and the somewhat filthy production. The riffs are heavy, thick, and raw, and there are enough tempo changes to keep the music interesting. The band’s predilection for the occult may be a turnoff for many listeners, particularly for those who see occult themed doom as being overplayed. The vocals may also be a bit of an obstacle as well. Colca’s voice is unique, but his delivery is even more so, especially when he sings in a conversational style. The biggest misstep perpetrated by Destroyer of Light is the inclusion of death growls that frequent the latter half of the tracks. It simply just doesn’t work.  The growls sound out of place and they really detract from the strength of the tunes. Still, ‘Destroyer of Light’ is a worthwhile, if not flawed release, and worth investigating. The band is still quite young having only formed this year so it will be interesting to see how they develop on future releases.

Words: Steve Miller
(Originally published at Doommantia)

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