Going through the old box of submissions from the previous editor, we came upon two by the needs-more-recognition label Dusktone. Its goal has been to release music of the dark and gloomy, paraphrasing from the official site, so it’s always a pleasure during the winter months to receive something from them. This, and another soon-to-be-reviewed-by-us album were the two we were sitting on, or rather the editor was waiting to send in his sloth. We will continue to chide him for this as we move further into the fuuuuturrreeee of Deaf Sparrow. Deer Twilight is a bit older than we hold ourselves to, but just can’t pass it up, nope. Cold Body Radiation received some great press with their first full-length, The Great White Emptiness, but it seems like a number of critics weren’t really certain how to categorize them afterwards. Black metal didn’t really cut it, and neither did shoegaze, and most were left to say “this sounds like Alcest”. Others said they reached their creative peak with the previous release and lost their flow, which we’ll address later. The tag of shoegaze has particular problems because it brings up the worst of pop and post-punk like year-old blood pudding your stomach couldn’t possibly digest. The promo sheet considers it as ‘bleak shoegaze black metal’ and for once a combination of genres actually has definition instead of convoluting everything into a puddle of ‘huh’? Cold Body Radiation’s second full-length, Deer Twilight, is one of the few that has convinced us shoegaze and black metal can somehow coexist, if done properly.
On Deer Twilight Cold Body Radiation has a nice way of altering black metal, much like their last one, but with some additional features. Sometimes we need to forget all of the hate for once, all of the death to humanity and pig heads placed upon microphone stands. It was cool for what it was, and is, but now and then we need something new. And that’s what Cold Body Radiation has done. Deer Twilight features the bleak, fragile essence of the more raw of black metal riffage with the atmospheric, ruminating quality of dark shoegaze, steering generally clear of blast-beating everything into a pasty pulp or tremolo applied everything until you’re pretty sure the strings broke several seconds prior. This release is in many ways the perfect mix, at least in theory, and Cold Body Radiation does a largely excellent job of providing an emotional package for you to unwrap. Some fans of black metal have been turned-off by the idea, but they seem to forget what the ‘bleak’ is really about, or let us say classical bleak. Depression, mental decay, tragic love, these are the things of art! Black metal isn’t all about anger or energy, in fact anymore that application of ‘black’ just ends up being ‘blah’. Sometimes we’d rather sink into our own bodies and cry ourselves to sleep, and the bands who can pull it off are owed a lot more credit than the more classical black metal acts. Screaming and speeding everything up is actually easier, true coldness is another thing entirely.
So Cold Body Radiation has cold figured out in this release. The chords are brittle, icy, they sweep around and freeze your skin like a wind chill you didn’t see coming on a day that goes from warm to gray. They crack limbs, seize-up joints, and jelly corneas. You’ll also find the vocals more varied, though you will find black metal wails behind the walls of white-noise snow. Deer Twilight features that in addition to actual singing, and it’s a wonderful touch to this approach that was more or less only hinted at prior. In comparison to their previous effort, this release is much more atmospheric. They tend to follow a similar format, but it has more of a brooding calmness than The Great White Emptiness. But, since we’re mentioning that release, the one thing Deer Twilight lacks is really memorable tracks. You’ll find yourself sulking about while you listen, but there’s a bit too much similarity from one song to the next, and they have a tendency to leach into each other. You’ll find it difficult to remember most of it after hearing the rest. But, considering some of the SGBM (look a new acronym) we’ve received over the past few years, Cold Body Radiation is one of the few that has the true potential to get it done right. They definitely hit a chord with their prior work, and though this one may be a little too atmospheric for some, it’s definitely not the same sort of atmosphere, it’s much more distant and dense. Give us a little more to remember for the next time, and we’re set to pour tears all over our naked, frostbitten bodies.