Saturday 14 November 2020

Dark Ambient Review: Crier’s Bane

Dark Ambient Review: Crier’s Bane

Review by Casey Douglass

Crier’s Bane

As someone who often has his head in a sci-fi novel, historical settings don’t often appeal to me. Besides a few flirtations with steampunk, my general taste seems to be “Give me space travel over death by consumption any day!” Crier’s Bane is a dark ambient album from Dead Melodies and Beyond the Ghost, one that immerses the listener in the sounds of Victorian London, during a time of murder, cobbles and horse-shit. As has previously been the case, my love of dark ambient seems to have been a fine lubricant to ease me into a setting that I could have otherwise been a little bit “meh” about. Worryingly, it seems to have also led to a strange use of innuendo only one sentence after mentioning horse-shit. I'll have to keep an eye on that.

The field-recorded elements of Crier’s Bane are one of the key parts to the atmosphere that the album creates. The opening track, Message from the Horsemen, features the snuffling and clip-clopping of horses, the sound of a blacksmith hammer pounding an anvil, an owl calling, and various voices as the listener’s point of view seems to travel city streets and alleyways. Alongside this are mellow tones, strains of French horn and warm guitar notes. Everything seems to gel together to paint a picture of the deepening night, one full of people ending their day’s work, with the shadowy underbelly making their furtive preparations for the night.

Cursed Riders of Night is another track that I really enjoyed. A melodica melody and a scuffed wind-like sound dance with high tones in the soundscape. After awhile, I thought I could hear the sound of creaking wood and a kind of grainy tapping, like a wraith at a window pane. A pulsing bass tone gives the whole track a kind of lurching momentum. Maybe the listener is in a carriage journeying through the dark London streets, the pea-soup fog throwing intangible, ghostly faces against the glass. It was a soothing and interesting ride.

The Unforgiving Toll of Time is a track that stood out to me, I think, because of its theme. It opens with a brief vocal, but as it progresses, the soundscape becomes infused with the ticking, windings and later, chimes of clocks. The creaking that accompanies these sounds might be the slow swings of a pendulum, or even someone lolling in a rocking chair. The ticking is slow, the other sounds swelling and falling. I liked the peaceful, introspective nature of this track, the sensation of closing yourself away from the world and losing yourself to your inner landscape. The clocks almost take on the aspect of the gears whirring in someone’s head, their thoughts catching in the cogs of their ruminations.

Crier’s Bane is a dark ambient album that does a fine job of evoking what Victorian London might feel like. The soundscapes are dark, grainy and spectral, the dirt, soot and creaking seeming to be an apt palette for the intangible fingers of ghosts to paint a mood with. For me, the feeling it created was one of restful melancholy, but one filled with hints of activity and the world carrying on at the fringes. Cripes, that sounds a lot like my life, minus the Victoriana at least. If you are looking for an atmospheric dark ambient album to while away those long Winter evenings, Crier’s Bane will take you somewhere else for a pleasant while.

Visit the Crier’s Bane page on Bandcamp for more information. You can also check out Cursed Riders of Night below:

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Crier’s Bane

Album Artist: Dead Melodies & Beyond the Ghost

Label: Cryo Chamber

Released: 03 Nov 2020