Review: Dark Sky Burial ‘Vincit Qui Se Vincit’

Back in June of this year I reviewed The Only Place, the latest release from Napalm Death alumni Mick Harris’ dark electronic alter ego Scorn, and last month fellow, and still current band member, bassist Shane Embury dropped the surprise release of the third album from his own dark ambient electronic project Dark Sky Burial.

Dark Sky Burial ‘Vincit Qui Se Vincit’

Vincit Qui Se Vincit, loosely translated as, ‘To conquer is to conquer oneself’ is nine tracks that form part of a planned quadrilogy of albums beginning with De Omnibus Dubitandum Est in April of 2020 and the follow up, Quod Me Nutrit Me Destruit back in February.

Composed by Shane Embury along with long-time friend, collaborator and producer Russ Russell, the latest album was finalised at Parlour Studios earlier this year to ensure consistency with the overarching theme of the project. Having been busy churning the miles with the relentless touring schedule of his day job, the extended break granted by the COVID-19 crisis allowed Embury to help form and shape the years of recorded material into a more cohesive and coherent vision to express the concepts that helped fuel Dark Sky Burial.

Much like his former band members Harris and (Justin) Broadrick (Godflesh) projects like Scorn and Palesketcher, DSB settings out to capture a mood and a theme, building on the subtle flavours of the music to make it speak to you without words. In the case of Vincit qui Se Vincit, this emotional journey seeks to look into the soul and ask questions about the darkness within and how we handle our own personal journey.

Many of the compositions on the album share a nervous, jittery feel. Second track Beware Your Subconscious Destroyer could almost be the cousin of Godflesh’s Love And Hate In Dub with its hectic beats and garbled samples regarding good & evil. In addition, late album track Abraxas breaks up the calm flow of the two preceding tracks with a paranoid, on edge feeling as the beats skitter and jerk.

this dark, experimental side of his personality is richly deserving of attention…

Elsewhere Embury shows a remarkable deftness of touch for someone who has spent three decades battering listeners eardrums with some of the most innovative extreme metal. On Embrace The Shadow the music is almost upbeat, light and cheerful as the piano driven narrative is sprinkled with clean and airy sounds before I Slept With Faith And Found A Corpse In My Arms, despite its horrific title, is delicately flavoured with plucked Eastern sounding strings and the ringing of bells.

This dichotomy of moods is balanced out by the connecting tracks and Scares Have Power (To Remind Us The Past Was Real) creates an other worldly swirling, futuristic effect reminiscent of the soundscapes found on the Blade Runner soundtrack, where rigid beats dissolve into moments of peace and calm reflecting in the emotional ebb and flow of the journey. The Last Gift To The Universe seeks to drown out this harmony with its dark, almost Teutonic beats and harder looping drums in a short, powerful echoing refrain.

The overarching journey and exploration of Vincit Qui Se Vincit doesn’t rob the album of its listenability however, the title track whilst moody, builds on colliding beats, swaying immensely with loops and samples that give off hip hop flavours and dance vibes, awash with choral vocal effects and an imperious commanding feel that is hypnotic and full of groove.

The final strains of Chains Of Delusion, sombre with ringing piano notes and drone somehow manages to bring the album to a satisfying, and almost hopeful, close. Despite the relatively short run time Vincit Qui Se Vincit does feel like an epic saga and yet is surprisingly repeatable, multi-dimensional and full of hooks that will have you going back again and again.

Having made a living crating some of the most challenging extreme music to grace the metal scene, Embury is showing his talents are not to be constrained and this dark, experimental side of his personality is richly deserving of attention.

Label: Extrinsic Recordings
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Twitter | Instagram

Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden