Wisconsin natives and sludge/doom metal lords Cavernlight have returned after five long years with a stellar sophomore release—As I Cast Ruin Upon The Lens That Reveals My Every Flaw. If you are already familiar with this band, you know that they do not skimp on album titles. As this release’s poetic title suggests, the album is full of angsty darkness that is sure to appeal to neurodivergent metal fans such as myself. While the tunes are crushingly heavy, there is a catharsis to it resulting in a beautifully expressive album which will resonate with many listeners. As I Cast Ruin… brings everything Cavernlight offered in their debut while expanding on soundscapes and programming created movements. There are no dull moments and many unique compositions to make this album one-of-a-kind and an excellent continuation of the band’s journey.
The album opens with eerie electronic reverberating noises. Quietly spoken vocals are then introduced as the background sounds continue. The vocals speak of an empty feeling and loss of will to carry on. Piano is then heard as clean sorrowful vocals begin. Eventually the vocals expand to include harsher harmonizing screams and other instrumentation is added involving crashing drums. This heavy introduction track offers a perfect snapshot into the album as mental health struggles and feelings of agony, self-doubt, and hopelessness are strong themes throughout. The vocal juxtaposition in “Accepting The Fate I’ve Crafted” alludes to two different emotional sides and the inner turmoil one can face. The progression of the music and vocals here are a spot-on depiction of how ill feelings can progress and evolve. Marching doom riffs are first heard in the following track, “Gaze Into The Glow And Drift Into Time.” This track is pure doomy goodness with growled vocals and killer drumming. The remaining tracks hold a combination of these two different sides of Cavernlight. The doom/sludge influences are there as well as the drone/atmospheric style heard in the introductory track. Every song has a different balance and blend making each piece unique but consistent enough to flow together into a comprehensive album and come together as a whole. The utilization of spoken vocals (which appears on more than one track) as well as the blend of instrumentation with electronically programmed sounds create a cinematic feeling to As I Cast Ruin…. This adds to the power of the album and further drives the lyrics and emotions.
Cavernlight explains that this release “…is accepting our place in this world with greater clarity, owning our response to the external factors in our lives, owning our personal failures and mistakes. It’s also asking the world what kind of existence offers the choices and environments that enable these feelings to be born and flourish. How should one respond when not given the knowledge and tools that are meant to aid in the response? Why is it any surprise to so many of us to have our will and happiness broken and destroyed while we try to hold onto a small piece of the warmth and light we had when we came into being.” Each listen of this album left me with heavy emotions, feeling as though I just ended a therapy session. Mental health struggles are brought into the light, dissected, and experienced, and I was left feeling a little raw but also validated. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and As I Cast Ruin… is a fitting offering. The album closes with the spoken vocals of “I don’t want to live anymore” which is heard a few times earlier throughout. The weight of these words provides a potent and impactful conclusion.
The album artwork was created by Cavernlight’s Scott Burns who also provides guitars, vocals, lyrics, programming, violin, and accordion in As I Cast Ruin…. His contributions to this album help drive it and add a depth that is unique and effective. The artwork conjures the same emotional response as the music and is a perfect companion to these tracks.
As I Cast Ruin… is a very intense and powerful album. It is something to be experienced, not just heard. I recommend headphones when diving in to fully immerse yourself and experience the album to its fullest. The use of varying/juxtaposing tempos, vocals, and instrumentation beautifully captures the complexities of depression and mental health struggles while offering a sense of comfort (in that the feelings emitted are relatable, which personally made me feel a little less alone) and catharsis. As I Cast Ruin Upon The Lens That Reveals My Every Flaw is a journey that is not to be missed.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with mental health, know that you are not alone, and help is available. Please visit The National Institute of Mental Health online for list of resources.