While they continue to unleash a steady stream of quality underground black and death metal, Iron Bonehead Productions also has a knack for finding artists in other styles that still exuded the tone and atmosphere that would attract metal fans. One of their latest finds is the mysterious White Nights, whose debut EP Into the Lap of the Ancient Mother delves in deathrock and black metal to create a haunting and hallucinatory listening experience. It’s a brief listen that will leave you wanting more, but there’s something unique to the vibe White Nights is channeling that is genuinely appealing and hints at even hazier things still to come.
This label is no stranger to deathrock or post punk, having released material from Rope Sect in the past, but Into the Lap of the Ancient Mother comes off feeling wholly different thanks to its more abstract construction. While there are constant drumbeats and bass lines that drive things forward, the guitar work and organs hover over the air like a thick fog that removes some of the structure and makes the material hazier and more hallucinatory. The bass lines and rhythms are where a lot of the deathrock and post punk feeling comes into play, but the actual tonality of the guitars has that abrasive buzz and jagged edge of black metal, creating a sound that is warm and inviting but feels like it might choose to devour you at the last minute. This is amplified on the lengthiest track, the seven-minute “Bölthorn”, where around the three-quarter mark the drums kick up into a pummeling bass drum heavy pattern that ups the metal side of the sound and makes the walls of haze threaten to close in on listeners and suffocate them. Admittedly the brevity of the release does make some of the individual songs blend together, but everything flows together seamlessly into a cohesive experience from beginning to end and the thick and warm atmosphere has kept me coming back to this one regularly.
With the instrumentals channeling so many different elements you might be wondering where the vocals head, and this is where things get even hazier. Rather than implementing harsher vocals White Nights keeps things on the mellow and abstract side, with singing that’s drenched in reverb and is somewhat hard to make out in the overall mix. The tone is mellow and blends in with the layers of sound as if it’s just floating in and out of them, with the singing sometimes turning more towards a spoken word cadence during certain passages. It’s much less prominent than some of the other bands of this style as the vocals often feel like an extension of the overall sound rather than a focal point but given the overall haze it suits the EP quite well.
White Nights’ debut EP is the type of material one can get fully lost in and is best suited for headphones with the lights off so you can get sucked right into its warm and enveloping atmosphere that still has an edge of danger and eeriness to it. It may prove to be an acquired taste for some given the more psychedelic and abstract feel compared to some of the more structured post punk bands that have influenced some of what is happening here, but the more adventurous listener will be sure to get a lot out of this. The group has left themselves plenty of room to expand upon either their mellower or abrasive tendencies, and it’ll be interesting to see exactly where they develop this unique base in the future. Into the Lap of the Ancient Mother is available from Iron Bonehead Productions.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
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