It is always an exciting time when I get the opportunity to see if one of my more anticipated releases holds up to my expectations. If you will recall, Cavernlight‘s debut full length, As We Cup Our Hands and Drink From the Stream of Our Ache, ended up on my list of such albums coming this year with high praise already thrown at it before even a note of music was heard. Now that I’ve sat with the full album for some time, I can say without a doubt that this album did not let me down in the slightest.
For those unfamiliar with their work, Cavernlight play a devastating brand of doom metal augmented with passages of noise. Their demo, Corporeal, was gripping and emotionally deep, driven by heavy funereal doom and awash with shimmering noise and ambiance. As We Cup Our Hands… sees Cavernlight explore these ideas further by incorporating black metal elements into their sound, in the form of despondent and atmospheric guitar work, the blast beats on “A Shell of One’s Former Self” that close out the album, and the guest vocals on “Lay Your Woes Upon The Ground, And Know That The End Will Soon Swallow You” from False’s Rachel N. The pacing on these songs is much more urgent as well; the meandering contemplation of songs like “The Ember That Burns in Endless Dark” is traded out for a sludgier and more streamlined feel.
Rest assured, though, that the sprawling ambiance that draws the listener in is still present. On As We Cup Our Hands… it is once again the balance between these two dynamics that makes what Cavernlight do work as well as it does. The material here is much darker and more aggressive than the material found on Corporeal, yet the band still incorporates the same breathing room and ambiance to allow the heavy moments to hit that much harder. Tracks like “To Wallow in the Filth That Dwells Where Despair is Born” and “Constructing a Spire to Pierce & Poison the Infinite”, aside from having some of my favorite song titles in recent memory, are masterclasses in how to play with texture and space to create something at times ethereal and staggeringly heavy.
It may be true that there is some danger in running my mouth off prematurely about future releases. In this case, however, I knew Cavernlight would come through for me, and true to form they absolutely delivered on the promise of this album. As far as doom metal is concerned, As We Cup Our Hands… is the album to beat for me, and without a doubt one that should sit high on many year end lists.
As We Cup Our Hands and Drink From the Stream of Our Ache will be available digitally June 16th on Gilead Media, and will be available on vinyl at a later date. For more information on Cavernlight, visit the band’s Facebook page.