Thursday 17 June 2021

Dark Ambient Review: Watcher at the Gates

Dark Ambient Review: Watcher at the Gates

Review By Casey Douglass

Watcher at the Gates
Album Cover

Watcher at the Gates is a dark ambient album from Kehseverin, aka Wesley Hiatt. I’ve reviewed a number of Wesley’s dark creations in previous months, and he always has a knack for creating tense, gritty spaces and distorted soundscapes. Watcher at the Gates is another album full of dark feelings; the heavy, fuzzy sounds rubbing against bleak field-recordings and seemingly simple yet effective tones and melodies.

One of my favourite tracks is My Solemn Oath. It opens with a low muffled rumbling and contains a pulsing atmosphere that presses and pressures the ears. A buzzing tone soon joins, smearing an ominous fuzzy feeling over the soundscape. As the track progresses, a trundling/engine-like sound joins, and also, a more energetic tone that seems to have the aspect of bashed piano notes, but notes that are muffled at the edges by distortion. This felt like a murky, pressurized track to me, and it was great to listen to.

Another track that stood out for me was Soliloquy. It begins with a pulsing high tone, a slightly lower tone dragged along as its companion. A bass hum joins things, and the tones stretch and buzz and fuzz as things deepen. The best way I could describe this track is like the audio equivalent of watching dappled sunlight on a disintegrating concrete wall. The sickly tree that’s casting the shadow is wilting and suffocated by the environment around it, its dead leaves hanging like broken promises. The tree’s shadow however, looks strangely perfect. That’s how I’d describe the feelings that this track brought to the surface for me.

The last track that I'll mention is Upon Rooftops, as I found this to be particularly dark. An agitated buzzing grows in each ear, a warm bass tone pushing and sighing from beneath. This feels like another fuzzy, “staticy” track. After awhile, a leafy rustling begins, roaming from ear to ear. A deep simple melody warbles and pulses beneath. The sound of rain emerges near the midpoint, with softer, high tones impinging as the track nears its end. This track felt like it contained the ceaseless attempts of something grating against the harshness of reality. The dominant rustling sound just might be a struggling bird trapped behind a boarded up window, the choice between standing still or fluttering left, right and back again apparently its only option. A track that embodies the emotion of futility.

Watcher at the Gates is bleak yet warm, sad yet brave. Sometimes in life, you just need to drink in the misery that you feel, simply because doing anything else seems like deluding yourself or being untrue. In doing so, you might just experience a little space opening up around the things that bother you or that you feel are dragging you down. Watcher at the Gates might just provide the audio accompaniment to this.

Visit the Watcher at the Gates page on Bandcamp for more information.

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Watcher at the Gates

Album Artist: Kehseverin

Label: VoidSoundLTD

Released: 3 May 2021