Saturday 7 August 2021

Dark Ambient Review: Necropolis

Dark Ambient Review: Necropolis

Review By Casey Douglass

Necropolis Cover Art

Sometimes, I get review copies of dark ambient albums, fully intending to review them, but for reasons of health or other life things getting in the way, they slip down in my mind. I do have periods where I go back and try to get to some of them however, and Ager Sonus’ 2018, Egyptian-themed Necropolis, is the target for this review.

The album description of Necropolis sets the scene of someone having awoken in darkness, the ceiling and walls feeling far too close for comfort. The air is lacking, the only sound more than likely the person’s pulse in their ears, and there is a feeling of being buried deep underground. As a reality, that would be scary as hell, but as the mental daydream of someone looking for some peace and quiet, it sounds like just the ticket!

The first track, Buried, cements the scene. There is a rumbling swell of distant sound, framed by falling pebbles that click and pop in the oppressive atmosphere. A drone and a deep slow beat emerge, metallic echoes and clattering sounds birthing a variety of higher tones. Later are piped notes and scuffling sounds, a sense of gritty particles and a hint of whispering and voices. This is a track of shifting earth and claustrophobia, but also of other things moving around in the darkness.

Necropolis is a track where this sense of other things moving comes to fruition. It begins slow and low, a faint rumbling, pulsing sound joined by the sound of a distant beat and a high shimmering tone. As before, some of the tones give a hint of a vocal, but hear them again and they sound like they’re just a tone once more. There are sounds of sliding and scuffling, along with the odd rasping sound. Pipe notes begin around the midpoint, before the track deepens and darkens to a rumbling conclusion. For me, this track described being in a tomb where the long dead are starting to stir and to edge back to life.

I think that my favourite track is probably Of Ashes and Dust. I think that this is partly due to how the swells of malice and the bubbling echoes not only continued the Egyptian burial theme, but also brought to mind some of the elements of the score of Alien. There is an impression of sand sliding through cracked stonework, and in some instances, the sound of dragging and chains. This is a quiet and insidious track, the tones low and relaxed, backed by a howling wind or draught. There is a peaceful male chanting vocal, and a slithering in the shadows. It’s great fun to ponder what is really going on here.

Necropolis is a dark ambient album that takes the listener on a journey deep into an Egyptian tomb. The instruments used evoke a great sense of place, and the field-recordings and rumblings create a dense, dark and soothing series of soundscapes to mentally explore. It’s funny how locations and themes that bring the dead closer to mind can be some of the most relaxing, if you are anything like me that is.

Visit the Necropolis page on Bandcamp for more information. You can check out the track Of Ashes and Dust below:

I was given a review copy of this album.

Album Title: Necropolis

Album Artist: Ager Sonus

Label: Cryo Chamber

Released: 20 Feb 2018