27th December 2014 – Self-release
02. Faint Young Sun
04. Dawnshrine (Distant Light)
05. Cerulean Dream
06. Remember Tranquility
The first thing you might notice about Dawnshrine, the debut full-length from Belgian one-man, supposedly black metal project Percht, is how downplayed the black metal elements really are. The proper label for this sound is probably more post-black metal, but at times the record sounds more like a post-rock band influenced by black metal rather than the other way around; it’s quite cinematic, and plays with dreary, film score-type feelings – were it not for the vocals.
They’re definitely a strong point of the album. The growled sections are whispery in a wind-like fashion, whilst the cleans moan and drone in an otherworldly fashion. Sometimes they are used together to great effect, such as in “Remember Tranquility” when the cleans are doubling the growls – however there are moments, such as in “Faint Young Sun”, where there are two different clean vocals in counterpoint and they end up just muddying each other up to the point where neither is very clear.
But it’s not long before “Vessel” picks things up again with a spoken word passage that carries a ton of weight, before moving back into growled chants and clean background vocals that are vaguely reminiscent of Burzum’s more recent work.
Dawnshrine also delivers strongly guitar-wise. Song tends to be composed of a rhythmic element and lead tremolo element, but neither one is the main focus – as is the norm in this style of music. Instead, they do a damn fine job of building a great atmosphere, straying through Summoning territory at times, and giving something for the vocals to work off .
Thankfully Ferre Bulte, the Belgian musician behind Percht, does not ignore the importance of the bass guitar in his compositions, and several songs have some very prominent, often melody-sustaining bass lines in them. It’s very effective and stands out well; this certainly isn’t any tech-death, jazz-fusion type music, so the bass isn’t doing anything utterly insane, but it is well wrought and well mixed.
An unfortunate problem the album seems to have is inconsistency with the mixes. Going from “Vessel” to “Dawnshrine” is a bit of a jolt because the latter has a much more subdued and quieter mix than the former. Thankfully, the vocals being consistent through each song softens that blow a fair amount, and seeing as this is a self-released one-man project it isn’t necessarily as big a sin as it normally would be – mastering to fix that would be expensive and hard for one person to afford alone – but it is still noticeable and takes away from the experience a bit.
Dawnshrine is a fairly solid album that fuses black metal’s compositional style with post-rock’s ambient sensibilities – think Explosions In The Sky meets Summoning and early Ulver - and while is certainly not a new style, it is difficult to think of a band that has done it in quite the same way or as well as Percht has here. There are certainly issues with the release, especially with mix consistency, but this is also a debut release. Ferre Bulte has done well here, and has already begun work on a follow-up, so perhaps he can correct those issues on the next album.
Best songs: “Vessel” “Cerulean Dream” “Unspoken”