Soft Hands, Pale Moon

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Band Name Verwüstung (USA)
Album Name Soft Hands, Pale Moon
Type EP
Erscheinungsdatum 04 August 2012
Labels Self-Released
Musik GenreAmbiant Black
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1. Soft Hands, Pale Moon

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Verwüstung (USA)

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Review @ Satanicarchangel

26 April 2013

Atmospheric goodness packaged into one long song

Soft Hands, Pale Moon feels like a sequel to the absolutely astounding release Beyond the Watercolor Sunset, We Feel New Life. Both tracks are very long, each exceeding the 20 minute mark and both have some of the most dazzling atmospheres my ears have had the pleasure of hearing. Unlike Beyond the Watercolor Sunset, We Feel New Life, Soft Hands, Pale Moon isn't broken up into 4 sections, rather it's broken down into 2 main ones, the intro and the main body of the song. The atmosphere is also consistent which differs from Beyond the Watercolor Sunset, We Feel New Life, which had a juxtaposition of both harsh and brutal sections and soft and mellow. The atmosphere is pretty much set to bleak but with certain elements that make it surprisingly uplifting, melodic and melancholic. This interesting contrast works tremendously in Verwüstung's favour as the atmosphere isn't tuned to monotone throughout.

Stylistically Verwüstung play an eccentric combination of Blackgaze and Drone Doom, sort of like a Lantlôs mixed with Sunn O))) affair with some elements of Depressive Black Metal thrown into the mix for good measure. The resulting sound is one that is beautifully hypnotic and tranquil and at the same time really heavy and dense. These contrasting aspects are what sets this band apart from the Atmospheric Black Metal scene as most bands create the same atmosphere throughout. Verwustung is able to masterfully mix so many differing aspects that shouldn't work together to create a sound that is truly unique, experimental and ethereal.

Unlike Beneath the Watercolor Sunset, We Feel New Life the acoustics have been cut from this release making it a predominantly guitar based track with some ambient synths over the top for good measure. The sound is to an extent darker and heavier than Beneath the Watercolor Sunset, We Feel New Life as the distortion on the guitars doesn't feel as razor sharp as it's much thicker and dense. It adds a lot of weight to the track and really helps to build the atmosphere.

The intro for Soft Hands, Pale Moon doesn't carry the same weight for me as Beneath the Watercolor Sunset, We Feel New Life. Where as that release succeeded due to the beautiful synth work that created a hypnotic and surreal atmosphere. Soft Hands, Pale Moon's intro is a guitar riff that feels to be repeated a lot more than it actually needs to be. Also there isn't any backing ambient sections or even drums or bass so it's just the guitar riff. Fortunately the rest of the track is a massive improvement and works wonderfully in creating a perfect atmosphere.

The second half is where this album truly shines, the vicious whirlwind of razor sharp Blackgaze is an absolute delight to listen to. The distortion is perfect, allowing the music room to breathe and to make the sound more expansive. The melodies are also excellent, mixing suitable levels of melancholy with a beautiful melodic tone packaged off in an outer layer of vicious Black Metal. The music here is very diverse in the sense that there's so many musical influences utilised within Soft Hands, Pale Moons. Original is a very good way to describe this release as I think it's fair to say that no one is doing the whole Post Black movement quite like Verwüstung. Sure there are plenty of bands who can create nice and pleasant Black Metal but none of them will ever match the raw intensity of Verwüstung. This band really is a stand out of the Post Black Metal scene showing that you don't need to adhere to the baseplate laid down by bands such as Alcest and Wolves in the Throne Room.

I've noticed that the distortion has been lightened up a lot, I think this was to compensate for the fact that the pitch on the guitars has been dropped considerably and overall the tone is thicker and more full so to speak. The Blackgaze elements are more noticeable to, whereas in Beneath the Watercolor Sunset, We Feel New Life the Blackgaze elements seem reserved to the build up of a crescendo through the use of subtle acoustics and ambients. Despite the crescendos that release still felt like a lo fi Atmospheric Black Metal record but Soft Hands, Pale Moon feels a lot more Blackgaze-y. The melodies are structured in a different way, mainly due to the lack of repetition, with the exception of the intro which I will admit is a bit of a taxing listen. The music overall is a very pleasant experience, the music is structured really rather good and the melodies are interesting and hypnotic. Sure the music is nice and pleasant to listen to but this is by no means easy music. I will admit that the music of Verwüstung will not appeal to a large group of people, the songs are long with a heavy focus on atmospheric build up rather than melodies or technical prowess. But for those select few who have a passion for atmospheric music then Soft Hands, Pale Moon is essential. Although this is another amazing addition to Verwüstung's discography it still doesn't quite match up to the sheer musical genius of Beneath the Watercolor Sunset, We Feel New Life although I will admit it's a much easier listen.
Overall rating- 18/20

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