Release date: 05 February 2020
Format reviewed: Digital Version
SADNESS is one of the most unique and recognizable Black Metal bands out there, although calling this project merely a Black Metal band doesn’t quite do it justice. An essential band for the Blackgaze subgenre, SADNESS combines the harsher side of Black Metal with dreamy Shoegaze elements. After releasing two extraordinarily strong albums in 2019, the second one “I want to be there” coming in as my 7th favourite album of the year, I was excited to see yet another release by this one-man project.
“atna” was a surprise release on February 5th and I instantly bought it when the Bandcamp notification popped up on my phone. This 3-track EP, while keeping the typical sound of the project, isn’t just more of the same, something that will become clear as we go through the separate tracks.
The first track “daydreaming” opens this EP with an ambient intro, which reminded me of the more subdued and distant atmospheric interlude parts of “I want to be there”. The intro then fluidly leads into the main part of the track, as a more prevalent guitar and the drums kick in, establishing, among the at points very shrill sounds, a very dense atmosphere. The track is recognizably SADNESS, yet I would say it is more doom-ridden and contemplative than its predecessor. Effective and punchy drums break through the thick wall of sound, overall creating very urgent and touching instrumentation that leads to the onset of the vocals. The screams are as effective and emotionally loaded as always, blending in with everything else to form a compelling musical entity. A lo-fi, glitchy and dreamy outro closes the EPs first track.
“how bright you shine”, the second track, begins with some broken/glitchy ambiance, over which we can hear weeping and sobbing, which later turn into screams of deep emotional agony. Guitars and drums are layered deep beneath the ambiance, continuously trying to push through. The sound grows increasingly distorted, and while being almost painful to listen to through headphones at points, it also creates a sense of urgency and intensity. The heart of the track, featuring high, shrill screams and depressing, yet beautiful instrumentation again conveys ambivalent feelings of emotional distress and disorder, the way only SADNESS can. With that, I mean creating a sound that is deeply sad and yet hopeful at the same time, a quality I haven’t observed as strong with any other band as I have with SADNESS. A drone-like part leads into the outro, which again features the sobbing and agonized screams, this time merely supported by the sound of the wind. These closing seconds of the track transported feelings of pure loneliness.
The closing track, “hope you never forget”, while at its core being a SADNESS track, again offers some new elements. Beautiful, ambient clean guitars with some underlaying keys create a nice atmosphere to initiate this EP closer. The song then introduces clean vocals, which were utilized with way more echo on the previous album, to this time take the center stage. These cleans really show SADNESS’ / Elisas singing capabilities, to the point where I really hope we get to hear them like this even more on future releases! The instrumentation of the song gets enhanced with some distant riffs. The onset of the drums also creates a very driving sound to the track, which I generally found to be very compelling and touching. Again, the sound is depressing and uplifting all at the same time, once more exemplifying how SADNESS has perfected this sound. The EP ends with a very ominous and unpleasant drone, which leaves you more on the depressed than hopeful site of things.
“atna” is another strong addition to SADNESS’ discography. I found it to not quite meet the strength of its predecessor, but I still enjoyed it a lot. Not many bands touch me with their sound as profoundly as this project can, and “atna” again managed to be a really moving and emotional piece of Blackgaze! 8/10 The Trve Medvson
8/10 To Greatness and Glory!
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