Light in the Abyss comes as the third album from Melbourne’s doom/death adepts Myridian. Five years have passed since sophomore album We, the Forlorn and this reviewer is keen to see the depths of their craft circa 2020.
Opener Light is Lost features a haunting intro that immediately sets the tone. Keyboards soon give way to majestic riffs that reveal Myridian’s wide-ranging sound; melodic death metal with heavy doom influences. Felix Lane’s vocals soon reveal themselves as a death metal-influenced growl. His low-pitched delivery works in contrast with the riffs and the skilful lead passages. The atmosphere gives way to an acoustic-led section; amid more solos from guitarists Ian Mather and Jeremy Landry. Overall this is an ambitious, but impressive track to open with.
Nidellavir is a touch more immediate in scope, being driven at first by acoustics and keyboards (deftly played by Dan Liston) that soon emerge into something akin to the band’s death metal influences. Choral and clean vocals work quite well in tandem with the keyboards here. One thing that is already becoming apparent is the sense of space that Myridian choose to give to each instrument here. Everything has room to stretch out and in these longer tracks it works to their advantage.
Babylon just edges The Roots, the Rats and the Raven as the shortest track on offer. With that said, Myridian use the duration well. Andrew Hudson (vocalist/guitarist of Harlott) puts in a memorable guest performance which provides some spoken contrast to Felix Lane’s raw vocals. Babylon is similarly driven by swathes of sombre guitar and vocals but combined with the keyboards, the effect achieved is much more mournful than what has preceded it.
The Poet is quite abrasive and punishing in atmosphere; restoring some of the immediacy from Nidellavir. It’s the track which feels the most outwardly ‘death metal’, with that said it still features many of Myridian’s trademarks. Its atmosphere is one of desolation and an almost bleak, suffocating heaviness. The twists and turns that Myridian aren’t afraid to take are a joy to hear. The second half is driven by a classical approach to the keyboards, and that delicate approach makes the impending juxtaposition when the remainder of the band comes back into the song that much more poignant.
The Roots, the Rats and the Raven gradually increases in intensity. The middle section is anchored by the keyboards and some excellently-placed guest vocals from Sarah Lim (of Melbourne’s Earth/The Night Terrors). This approach provides an opportunity for the band to ease a bit and offer some introspection before Lane’s vocals re-emerge for some contrast. The vocal duet that leads the track out is just executed brilliantly.
Penultimate piece Black Wind is quite busy, but everything emerges in its way. Thick layers of synthesiser passages duel with the guitars and drums to create an immense soundscape, one that certainly conjures up imagery and feeling of black wind. There’s a feeling of solitude present in this track that tends to work well with the instrumentation and relatively sparse usage of vocals. Some fine guitar soloing sees the track out.
Closing track One with the Abyss is foreboding, almost ominous in approach. It feels like each instrumentalist has come together to create something immense. Likewise, there is a reprisal of the clean vocals that saw occasional use in the preceding tracks. This is perhaps the track with the band’s disparate doom and death metal influences collide to their best effort. Furious drumming coexists with riffs both savage and massive in scope. The final few minutes of One with the Abyss is again led by keyboards and fierce vocals, ending proceedings on something of a forlorn note as the listener is drawn into the abyss.
With Light in the Abyss Myridian have crafted something that is epic in scope. They must have approached this with a lot of ambition and care, for they managed to create lengthy tracks that always have enough involved to keep the listener invested. It took quite a few listens for the album to completely unfold, but the work becomes all the more immersive for it. There are still some concepts in their sound that might need a bit of polish or tweaking, but I look forward to seeing where successive releases will take them. Highly recommended to fans of death/doom, their parent genres and any metalheads looking to challenge themselves.
- Light is Lost
- The Poet
- The Roots, the Rats and the Raven
- Black Wind
- One With the Abyss