Australian black metal band Pestilential Shadows has been around since 2003. This year marks the release of their fifth full length album, “Ephemeral,” and it couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time of the year. The fun warm days of summer are no more, now replaced by Autumn. Although I’m new to the band, while listening to “Ephemeral” I could place all of the elements and the cycle of Autumn into each song on this album.
Starting with the 1:29 mood-intro of ‘Throes,’ you can feel the temperature slowly start to drop. ‘Mill of Discord’ is dark and gloomy. A majority of the song consists of slow to mid-tempo riffs from guitarists Balam and Somnus, with haunting beautiful melodies towards the end of the song. The track reminded me of the beauty of Autumn leaves changing. Picking up the cycle, ‘Fragments’ features the painfully tortured vocals of Balam and savage blast beats that are so strong that they easily shake the color-filled leaves out of the trees at a rapid pace. ‘Sorrow of Tongues’ starts off slow but soon the riff fury is upon you like a torrential heavy downpour of an Autumn day. The nice surprise was the spotlight of bassist Wraith, for the last 1:35.
As I have stared out the window for the last week, the sun has basically disappeared and the only thing that is here are dark rain colds. The bleak cold wet weather can wear you down while waiting to see if the sun will peak through the clouds. This is what listening to ‘Hymn of Isolation & Suicide’ is, in a nutshell. The title track, ‘Ephemeral,’ is very atmospheric in the beginning with more of Balam‘s agonizing cries, then within a blink of an eye you are on board a black metal chugging runaway train while it smashes through barrier after barrier. The final track, ‘Expire,’ sounds like an extension of the opening track, ‘Theoes.’ This track marks the end of Autumn, old man winter in the air with his gifts of frost and eventually snow.
Bottom line is, “Ephemeral” doesn’t reinvent the black metal wheel. There’s nothing I haven’t heard before, but Pestilential Shadows do it right. It is full of dark riffs, depressing atmospheric elements and excruciating vocals like a good black metal album should be. So if you’re mad about having to rake up all the leaves that are laying around your yard, definitely listen to “Ephemeral.”