Having kept up a steady stream of releases since debuting with a couple of singles and the Shadow People EP back in 2017, the one-man band of Drift Into Black is back with their third album. Featuring some song titles reminiscent of Opeth (e.g., “The Burial Gown” and “The Silent Autumn”) and album art of a gory but meditative bent, the album presents itself as a fine continuation of the sober and thoughtful doom which Drift Into Black has been cultivating since its beginnings.
One of those Opeth-ish ttacks, “The Silent Autumn”, opens the album with gentle synth textures and acoustic guitar coaxing listeners in on subdued rhythms. Calm but expressive vocals, treated with a bit of echo, join in before long, making the immediate human element one of grounded grief. Concisely communicated, the song draws itself back into the synth atmospherics as its three minutes come to an end, with “Among the Beast” providing a crashing contrast of heavy electric guitar tones as it takes over. It’s an early demonstration of a quality found throughout the album writ large, that of being able to join together two sharply different approaches, and find enhancement in the disparity.
Illustrating the more metallic side of Drift Into Black, “Among the Beast” works with unhurried percussion, an emphasis on reverb for the strings, and spots for the keyboard work to slide in for a spot of comparative brightness. Given band mastermind Craig Rossi‘s former work as the keyboardist of Grey Skies Fallen, that last detail not only makes sense but, far from being a stab at transcending drum/bass/guitar traditionalism, it comes through as a fully-realized part of the songs. As the album continues, Rossi regularly puts clean and growled vocals into alternating work, while fitting the lyrical content to them accordingly. Treatment effects are well-used when they appear, and the overall mixing and layering of the vocals and instruments into each other is consistently high-polish.
One of the album’s oddest moments comes in “Thread of Hope”, with an opening riff that’s almost disco-like in its rhythm. It’s certainly an out-there moment in the album’s assorted experiments, but it works, finding growth through the rest of the song, and providing some undeniable shake-up from the doom metal standards. Elsewhere, “Mother in Peril 9” offers up some of the album’s fastest drum-work, bringing out the tension of familial pressures delivered by the lyrics, while “Her Voice from Beyond” dips into some ghostly female vocals to broaden the character palette, and the title track receives a two-part treatment.
Through it all, from sorrowful bridges to thunderous outbursts, Rossi keeps things thoughtfully written and arranged. While it may take a little patience to pull out the overlying concept to the album, there’s more sense of purpose behind the musical choices than in a lot of doom metal you’re likely to come across these days. Though that does result in a few spots where a sense of off-the-cuff spontaneity would be welcome, if only to jar the near-oppressive moroseness, the album and its creator most certainly do impress.