Artist: Existential Dread
Album: Full Moon Bliss
Label: Moonligh Cypress Archetypes
Release Date: 24/06/2021
Country: United States
The band hail from Tennessee and play a highly atmospheric and experimental brand of blackened doom with free jazz, psychedelic and drone elements. This is their debut release but you would never know it given the quality of the music presented. This sounds like a band that is several releases deep, that have worked on their sound for some time in order to be this secure in it.
There is a muddled, faded energy to the album that makes everything sound and feel murky. It’s almost as if the music you’re listening to is emanating through a thick fog and from some distance. It also feels like it’s coming from all around you due to the swooning, pulsing sort of effect that it has. There is a constant rise and fall of sound between the more traditional string and drum elements and the unusual jazz instrumentals. The back and forth between the two is fantastic, but when they overlap it makes the album truly worth listening to. There’s also a heavy use of distortion and reverberation effects applied to the instrumentals that give it a haunting quality and make it somewhat disorienting.
The album will have you on your toes throughout, as just when you think you understand what is going on the band throw a total curveball your way. This could be a highly unusual jazz element or a completely spacey riff or a mind-bending psychedelic part. You never know when these parts will hit, but when they do, they have a lasting impact. They’ve struck a great balance struck between fuzzy heavy doom, more meandering and experimental psych and repetitive and immersive drone parts. This ensures that things never get boring even without the jazz elements at play.
The vocals play a key role in the album’s overall sound. This is where the black metal elements really come into play. The vocal style employed on the album is probably closest to an atmospheric black metal style. We get a raspy whispered voice that sounds like it’s emanating from beyond the aforementioned fog, beckoning you to wander deeper into the unknown. I would have to say that the vocals are one of my favourite elements on the release. The elevate the whole album, further adding to its unsettling and mysterious quality. The echoed and faded effects applied to the voice make it feel almost inhuman, like something ethereal rather than temporal.
I know I’ve used the fog metaphor to death already, but I really have to say that this album feels like the soundtrack to a horror movie. Something along the lines of Blair Witch with a haunting elusive figure with a dark energy pursuing and trapping its victims in the wilderness. Once they’ve been lured out deep into the marshland of the wild this is when the fog sets in. All they can hear is this album’s distorted vocals swirling around them from every direction leading them deeper and deeper in. The instrumentals further disorient them, making them lose any sense of direction, The droning and pulsing nature of the music draws them in so deeply they lose all sense of time. This is the last thing that they hear as they fade into madness and then eventually their lives are lost, and they are never seen again. All that the rescue party can find is a Full Moon Bliss cassette at the site of the disappearance but when they look into the band, they find that they never existed (simply for the sake of this metaphor of course).
I went off on a tangent there, but this album really made me feel those things, which is something that a lot of the music I listen to fails to do. As a result, I have to say that this is a truly fantastic album and one that everyone should experience. Whether or not you enjoy it is up to you entirely, but you should at the very least give it a listen. I guarantee one thing, that you won’t be bored and that it won’t be like anything else you’ve listened to.
Listen to and order the album: