Release Title: Descent to Insignificance
Release Date: 12 August 2022
Location: Dresden, Germany
Digital Price: 4 EUR (4.24 USD)
Length: 47min 33s
There’s just so much brilliant metal that comes out of Germany that we have such a wealth of options to listen to. I’m still regularly amazed by new projects I hear that pop up, and Lightless is one of those projects that I’m glad came to my attention. This is their debut EP, and it’s laden with dark tones, the vibes of an underworld out there somewhere that you can’t escape. Normally when I hear about Dresden, I immediately think of particular historical events. Now when I hear the name Dresden, I’m going to think of a promising new post-metal project that I’ll bring up every time.
Dr Christian Engelmann was quite pleasant communicating to me, relating to me the story of how Descent to Insignificance was composed during cozy jam sessions in a rehearsal room with bassist Nadine Schulz and drummer Mark Neumann. With Dr. Engelmann on guitars and vocals, the trio had some deep, heartfelt sessions trying to blend the sometimes-contradictory tones of our lives, from harsh and heavy moments to slow, peaceful times. In the back of their minds is a sort of existential despair and frustration in the progressive destruction of the only place we know of that is capable of supporting human life.
To evoke that destructive, rough treatment of the world, Lightless made the deliberate choice to record in a simultaneously played DIY sort of manner, without a click or multi-take recording. Now, I’m often skeptical of this choice because so many bands go for a DIY sound, trying to capture that lo-fi aesthetic and the music can suffer from poor quality as a result. Other times, it’s called a creative choice as good PR for the artist simply not having the resources or finances for a better recording.
With Lightless, it is clearly a purely creative decision, and Descent to Insignificance really benefits. There is an organic sense of frustration here that comes through, with Dr. Engelmann, Schulz and Neumann all meshing so well together that it’s easy to get lost in those wails and moody drums of Illusional fate. It’s authentic, and it’ll send chills down your spine in the right mood.
This is an EP, so that means it only has four tracks. That said, this is sludgy, doomy post-metal so be ready for some ambience and a slower pace. The way these tracks build an atmosphere, and keep building, introducing subtle changes and coming to an emotional conclusion that isn’t necessarily a happy one is just so well done. I’ve always felt that Godspeed You! Black Emperor were true masters in their ability to create an atmosphere, build it, creating tension that just lingers and hits the right spot.
Now, Descent to Insignificance is a totally different style of music, but the way Lightless are able to hold my attention, build tension and develop that sense of dread is done so well that it reminded me of how few projects out there are truly good at it in the way GY!BE are. Lightless are doing their damndest to show me that there’s a new generation of bands getting there, and with this being the debut release of Lightless – boy, do they have a lot of potential. I felt that from the moment I listened to Fragileness of being, the first track on the album.
Dr. Engelmann was not so pleasant communicating to me, as I reach the last few minutes of Fragileness of being and hear the frustration in those black metal growls. The contrast between his demeanour in conversation and in his art is remarkable, and it’s perhaps symbolic of what Lightless are going for here. On the one hand, there’s something pleasant that has been built up after years of growth, but then there’s also a furious dark side. Fragileness of being is about the shallow existence of modern society, the reality of capitalism where billions of people are worked to the bone, wasting their whole lives until they die. In the vein of subgenius band Stylex – wake up, go to work, go to sleep and do it again. Lyrically, Lightless is on point, but it never feels on the nose, thanks to the instrumental and vocal choices on display.
This is accompanied by Neumann’s drumwork that has a subtlety to it, both in the mix and in the rhythms he chose. This is all immersed in some thick bass from Schulz, and I just can’t get enough listening to Illusional fate, especially that opening riff that hits hard. That crescendo a few minutes in, followed by a long, slow descent that is perhaps the best sequence in the track. It’s just such a great track, on an EP that I’m glad came my way, because it has permanently altered the way I relate to Dresden. From here on out, it’s home to some pure fucking doom, in the best way possible. More than that, it’s where Lightless are from – what a place to be.
I hope you enjoy Descent to Insignificance.