Day 4 of Hipster Week! This one may shock you.
Going into this one, I had a feeling… a funny feeling… a sneaking suspicion… that I would end up liking it. Well, alas. This is the 2014 debut full-length by Grand Rapids, Michigan Post-Black Metal act A Pregnant Light. Now, right the fuck off the bat, two things about this album can and will be very off-putting to a lot of people: The cover art and the title. Understandably so. I was no exception to that. I wasn’t expecting any more out of this one than I was out of the last three this week that I reviewed so far, plus, I know the expected reaction from me would most definitely be to absolutely shit on it. Well, prepare to be disappointed. I actually liked it! Yeah, I know. I’m just as shocked as you are. This is an album that on the surface looks like something that appeals to modern millennial artist types that I would totally blow off at first glance, and maybe in a way it is that, but thanks to what i’m doing here this week, I actually gave it a shot and found a hidden treasure of audio gold.
I wouldn’t necessarily call the style that A Pregnant Light plays ”Black Metal”, although it does exhibit some Black Metal aesthetics. It reminds me of the latest Oathbreaker album, Rheia. It’s more on the Hardcore/Post-Hardcore spectrum but with Black Metal style riffs and occasional blastbeats, and honestly, I enjoyed it. It’s pretty well done and doesn’t try to blatantly pass itself off as Black Metal at all. It’s it’s own style and presence and it borrows just a few Black Metal elements and doesn’t over use them. The songs are mainly mid-paced and are pretty catchy and had me jamming. There are also occasional blastbeats and tremolo riffs that aren’t overly done and actually compliment the core style in a very unique way. It’s sort of hard to explain but it works. Even in the vocals, that are basically just raspy yells, aren’t trying to sell this as a Black Metal album. At the beginning of opener Unreachable Arc, I wasn’t sure which direction this would go, but I was pleased with the result. That track is the absolute tone-setter of what was to come and my liking for it. Very similar to the latest Oathbreaker.
This album epitomizes what was missing from the last three albums that I’ve reviewed already this week; good production that matches well with the band’s sound and it’s not repetitive and it doesn’t try too hard to be something it’s not. The overall sound is melancholic but very abrasive and coarse and the production is just as well done and meshes almost perfectly with it. As presented right from the jump with the opener and continued with tracks like Born to Ruin and Dream Addict, a perfect balance is met between atmosphere and aggressiveness and neither overshadow the other. There’s even a good balance between sweet, sugary riffs and grooves and tremolo picking and blastbeats and it’s all put together so cohesively and the even the vocals fit it like a fucking glove. There are even the occasional clean vocals in Circle of Crying Women and You Cut Me from a Magazine I Didn’t Know That I Was In, that are tolerable and super elusive all throughout the album. Things close up with the spoken-word Purple Light, which is a satisfying closer. I’m not going to mention every single track on the album, I can pretty much say the same thing about all of them, but this album is absolutely a gem beneath an uninteresting surface.
So here it is! The first album of the bunch this week that I can honestly and positively praise and give all the credit in the world to. This album had me groaning with disinterest going in and completely and utterly surprised me once the layers were pulled back. This is a great album with a distinct style that doesn’t try to bullshit you into thinking it’s one specific thing and takes elements from a multitude of different styles and genres and blends them into something interesting. It’s a well-structured style that strikes a fair middle ground between dreary and aggressive and totally transcends the usual dull, lifeless, squeaky-clean style that we’re used to getting from a majority of these artsy fartsy Hipster Metal acts. This may be blasphemous and profane on my part and it may make some of you purists shit your britches, but I enjoyed this one and this individual has made a fan out of me. I don’t subscribe to the whole ”don’t judge a book by it’s cover” rubbish, but in this case, I was wrong.
Until next time.