18th November 2014 - Silent Pendulum Records
01. Lost Ages
03. The Secret Fate of All Life
05. For Nothing
From the bleak, haunted lands of Madison, Wisconsin, Bereft - not to be confused with the group containing Intronaut‘s Sacha Dunable, Abysmal Dawn‘s Charles Elliot and ex-The Faceless bassist Derek Rydquist - have been plying their trade in doomy black metal since 2011, when the band was formed as an outlet for the members’ views on religion, politics, social justice, and the human condition.
They recorded a demo in 2013, and but we now have their first full album, Lost Ages - though calling this an album is a stretch as it is only 31 minutes long and only contains four actual songs, plus an interlude. Still, it definitely shows promise for the young group.
Lost Ages almost feels like the successor to the beloved Altar of Plagues, but thankfully never reaches a point where it feels worshipful, or even really that it’s on purpose. The opening track very much feels like a less long-winded track from AoP, with dashes of Krallice for good measure, but the second track goes in a slow, heavy direction instead, and third song “Loss” opens with a flowing riff, with some sweet drum work underneath.
Guitarists/vocalists Zach and Alex’s guitar tone is gravely and harsh in the right ways, but it’s also very clear; not at all muddied, as some doom bands tend to be. The post-metal elements in the band’s repertoire are likely the cause of that, giving a sense of definition to the otherwise massively sludgy riffs. However, it does feel like they could use even more weight at times; the post-metal/sludge combination is an odd one, and mostly it works, but some times the guitars feel a little on the light side. It works extremely well for the ethereal post-metal/black metal sections however, so not much change is needed.
The vocals are a true highlight of the album: emotionally evocative, with a harshness that rips through the music with force, they have a keen human side too, which is less usual for black metal type bands. It is perhaps more accurate to compare it to a more hardcore vocal style, but interpreted through black and doom metal’s eyes, with touches of sparse clean vocals, which give an almost ethereal feeling to the record when they show up.
The drum tones are tight and hard hitting – they’ve some real punch to them, cutting through like knives through fog. The toms ring deep and rumbling, and the snare is nice and sharp. The shimmering, damp quality from the cymbals adds a nice ghostly atmosphere, and it’s just a quality mix all round.
With all that said, there are a few sections here and there that are not entirely memorable. While “Loss” and “Unwelcome” are excellent tracks without anything really to work on, “For Nothing” and the title track have a couple of moments that feel like it is dragging on a bit too much without any real direction.
Lost Ages is, rather unfortunately, a very short album, but Bereft have made the most of that this half-hour by putting forth a very convincing release that should set them up for some serious success in the near future.
Favourite tracks: “Unwelcome” “Lost Ages” “Loss”