Ascending Into Shimmering Darkness by ColtsboodRelease date: April 14, 2017
Label: Candlelight Records / Spinefarm Records
Ascending. Sounds hopeful, does it not? To me, the word brings inferences of promise, hope, and ambition. Addition rather than deduction. It is also a polar opposite to the title of Coltsblood’s last album Into The Unfathomable Abyss. So, what differs this time round? I suppose Candlelight is a bigger label and the band has paid touring dues so their career trajectory can be construed to be in the right direction. Musically, though, it’s a different cauldron of putrid hell-soup. Subjecting oneself to repeated listens of Ascending Into Shimmering Darkness is to enter a bottomless sonic pit. This is the stuff of nightmares.
It actually starts promisingly enough – opener, the oxymoronically named ‘Ascending Into Shimmering Darkness’, emerges with a fleeting, partial shard of light, reverb-laden tones redolent of Bell Witch or a crawling Paradise Lost. However, after a few minutes, it’s still meandering aimlessly, mono-dimensionally, and my attention is already wavering. Disconcertingly, we’re still on the first track. The light is fading. Finally, thankfully, we’re done. Surely things must improve?
‘Mortal Wound’ gallops off with some black metal-ly growls and faster riffing but turns out to be equally turgid, despite the contrast in pace. The light is eclipsed. Welcome to the eternal darkness of mediocrity. ‘The Legend Of Abhartach’ is next. A bit of Googling reveals Abhartach to be some sort of mythic Irish beastie. That’s the most interesting thing about the passage. You’d be compelled to Google to learn that though because the vocals occupy an incoherent tonal nothingness, guttural gruntings of a constipated ogre trying and failing to pass a monster turd. I wanted monster turd to find a place here. It seems appropriate. You’re trapped in the bowel of a beast and there is no light and no hope of escape. You’re going to die here, encrusted in ogre shit. It’s that bad.
You might be starting to think I’m just not the right person for this stuff. I’d claim to disagree. I love Grief and Khanate, both absolute masters of the tortured, elongated doomscape. I think Coltsblood aspire to those heights, but they’re light years away in execution. Hitting on a limited riff then extruding it beyond the ten minute mark doesn’t constitute anything worthy or admirable. Especially when those riffs are so turgid and uninspiring.
The noise continues to meander, to drag, encapsulating lifelessness, amplifying dullness…each stanza fades then is done. Uninspired. Fizzling out listlessly. Fleeting respite in silence till we’re off again. Which track are we wading through now….? I don’t care. It’s more of the same. The ogre is still growling….fee fi fo fum….his limbs have atrophied, consigned to spend eternity on the crapper and there’s no bog roll.
There is a thick, clawing element to this doom although it’s more drudge than sludge. This is music conceived and executed in a torpor: lethargic, limited and lifeless.
So, just to be absolutely clear…I didn’t like this album. It is an ordeal of a record. After around a week in its presence I reached the conclusion that exposure to any more Coltsblood this side of the blackened arse-end of eternity’s final death-fart would be all-too-fucking soon. If the artistic intention was to construct an ultimate sonic evocation of emptiness, despair and pain my reaction perhaps enables Coltsblood to consider their mission complete. I reckon life’s too short to waste on this sort of gelatinous gruel. I’m off to listen to some Minor Threat before I lapse into an irrevesible coma.