Santa Fe, NM via Seattle, WA’s Predatory Light, after wowing the underground with a two track demo and a split with New York’s Vorde, are finally unleashing their self-titled debut full length album on the world. Predatory Light expands on the already crushing formula that the band has laid out, bringing a whole new level of chaos into this world.
Predatory Light’s music relies heavily on a balance of meandering doom ambiance and frantic black metal. The hallmark of the band’s sound is the winding guitar passages that members K. and L.S. use to whip the compositions into a frenzy, full of stabbing highs and unexpected twists and turns up and down the fretboard (one Bandcamp review likens the sound to ‘black metal Dick Dale’). Much can be said of the rhythm section as well, which manages to stay tight during the albums many tempo and rhythm shifts and provides a thick, solid sonic backbone over which the guitars make their mark.
Predatory Light is an album that relies heavily on an eerie, uneasy atmosphere to make its statement. From the first ominous organ chords that kick off album opener “Laughing Wound” to the often visceral lyrics pertaining to physical and spiritual degradation, these songs feel almost like the soundtrack to a demonic horror movie. Tracks such as “Path of Unbeing” , featuring verses that read “Purged in blood / From her skeletal womb / Feeding this spiritual flesh / Suckling uterine murk / In venereal darkness”, call to mind classic horror images of blood, gore, and creatures not of this world. I can only imagine what listening to this album alone in the dark would do for someone’s psyche.
A large part of how Predatory Light succeed in crafting this atmosphere is due to a massive step up in production quality on their full length. Where the intricacies of the musicianship was often obscured by raw production on the band’s demos, all instruments are fully realized in sound on Predatory Light. The bass growls with tight distortion, guitars cut through the mix without being too bright, and the drumming sounds massive and full. Most importantly, the vocals are no longer buried in the mix and vocalist L.S. completes the atmosphere with filthy growls that practically drip with gore.
All in all, Predatory Light is a massive step forward from a band that was already doing more than a few things right. Fans of the band’s initial output, provided that they are not purists who feel that decent production quality makes a band too ‘mainstream’, will be very pleased with what is featured on this album, and any fans of black metal looking for something truly unsettling would be hard pressed to find something better.