I’m sure that I’ve said this before, although I don’t want to propagate national stereotypes too deeply, but it seems that the Finns do gloom, misery and despair like no other nation. I’m not going to analyse it too much, but culturally there is something that allows them to tap into this element of the human psyche so profoundly. That’s not to say all Finnish music is depressive and sombre, far from it, but when they do make sorrowful music it tends to have a certain unmistakeable depth that comes forth phenomenally well in heavy music.
The brainchild of Tampere native Teemu Toikka, Devastating Light is a one-person project that wallows in depression without ever sounding self-indulgent or pretentious. The project’s debut EP I Have Already Failed You takes many cues from post-metal, particularly and often directly from fellow Nordics Cult Of Luna. But it also includes tropes associated with funeral doom such as the relentlessly slow pace, spacious riffs and of course the overwhelming sense of melancholy. It’s not a particularly polished production, and in places that rawness can be a little unfulfilling, but for the most part there is a good balance in the mix that allows every instrument to shine where it needs to.
Split into three numbered tracks, Part I begins with a gentle chord strum before kicking into a barrage of slow tempo post-sludge type riffs over which an emotive vocal howls. As the song progresses the space begins to open up and a dirty bass riff takes the lead, before the clean guitars return to gently pull at your heartstrings. Eventually it gives way to another guitar break that’s overlaid by static and raindrops before a sudden, dramatic jolt into a crushing doom riff, with the vocals returning even more caustic than before.
Part II opens in silence, and a solitary riff crisply plays out. It bursts into life after a short while, playing out at a depressive tempo while the vocals cry out in horror. After a brief break into a sorrowful clean guitar break and an emphatic return to the riff, the track begins to build: the tempo increases, the drums become more insistent, and when all the instruments kick in there’s a groove and melody which is acutely akin to Cult Of Luna’s first few albums. It’s a brilliant movement, but it drops out too soon into another clean guitar passage before it’s really had time to develop.
post-metal with a profound sense of misery…
Part III opens in a quite similar way, only instead of a crisp single string riff we get a lonely chug to pierce the silence before cutting off directly into another particularly Cult Of Luna-esque passage. The vocals really tear through with impressive fervour, and whilst I understand the idea of placing them lower in the mix with echo, I feel like they may have actually more impact in the opposite way, being right at the forefront of the sound bellowing directly into your ear. The track continues on with various chord progressions that are distinct but also rather similar, before another clean guitar break leads us into the final movement and the first time where this track really comes to life. After being introduced by an Esoteric-esque guitar melody, the guitars enter into the heaviest riff on the album, the drums pummel away furiously, and the lead guitar lines add some additional colour to the sombreness.
As much as I enjoyed this record, I also struggled with it a little. There’s some great ideas and well-crafted riffs, and the emotive atmosphere of gloom and sorrow is portrayed brilliantly with such minimal elements. However, minimalism is often what lets the EP down. The song-writing is certainly fine, but there are too many familiar concepts and predictable changes for a three track record, and there’s not enough riffs or transitions which sit dynamically in-between the soft clean parts and the heavy distorted parts. It’s these missing sounds which the best post-metal bands use to such great effect, and while I do believe there is a lot of potential in this project, the song-writing and composition needs more refinement before it will reach this. For a first release there is definitely a lot to enjoy here though, especially if you’re looking for post-metal with a profound sense of misery.
Scribed by: Will J