An eminent Black Metal artist recently said, “you should be able to feel the iciness and smell the forest.” I thought this was an apt summary regarding the genre. Upon The Edge Of Darkness, the debut studio full-length from Black Metal trio Lumen Ad Mortem definitely meets those criteria, emanating iciness and shadowy pine forest eeriness. This atmosphere could not be more far-flung from their homeland, Australia.
Lumen Ad Mortem – Upon The Edge Of Darkness (Bitter Loss Records)
Release Date: 27 January 2023
Words: Jools Green
Lumen Ad Mortem (meaning: the dying light) formed recently, in 2019 and consist of Aaron Tuck on guitars, bass, keyboards and orchestration, Gregor Pikl responsible for vocals and lyrics and Matt “Skitz” Sanders on drums. Their aim is “reawakening the night sky fires to the glory of early ’90s anthemic Black Metal.”
Upon The Edge Of Darkness is their six-track, forty-one-minute offering, which follows their 2019 demo featuring versions of three of the six tracks in this album.
Opening on Infinite Resonance, one of the tracks featured on the demo, hauntingly grandiose as it begins expanding into a more traditional icy Norwegian sound, rammed with atmosphere and garnished subtle symphonics with acidic, scathing, soaring vocals. Its mid-pace delivery spans a mighty seven and a half minutes, ebbing and building with a superbly organic flow and ending on an echoing acidic scream. If that doesn’t grab your attention, nothing will. A superb track.
Within The Smoke ramps the pace up slightly and delivers repeated punch after punch whilst still maintaining that dark, icy haunting aura, a magnificently moody piece.
Ethereal is awash with raw driving riffs and scathingly icy vocals and bolstered by subtly applied haunting symphonics, with an equally haunting repeat and engaging drive to its lengthy construct, subtly but atmospherically choral just after midway with deeper echoing vocals and symphonic instrumentation appearing towards the close. The album beast at over eight minutes, wending its convoluted mesmerising path through icy mindscapes that sweep you along with the sound, a superb listen.
Thought And Memory is an intense driving beast, with an eerie addictive repeat riff and deeper roaring vocals in places that send a shudder down your spine. Midway there is an ominous orchestrated element that adds atmosphere, gradually giving way to that intense blackened drive which is icier and even eerier than before, fading back into the mists as it closes to simple but haunting piano notes.
The final two pieces were also featured in the demo. Firstly The Voices From The Stream, where the pace ebbs back again to a hauntingly atmospheric one. I love the protraction on the vocals. It adds to the atmosphere, as do the eerie backing vocals. Midway through the first half is a lighter, more atmospheric burst of riffs and symphonics, which adds a reflective quality, plunging back into the abyss with the return of the acidic vocals with the militaristic drum work midway adding impact and punch.
The final piece, Narrow Paths And Stony Ground, opens with militaristic drumming and imposing percussive crashes alongside an imposing brass section element before bursting forth into a full-throttle blackened assault on your senses. A powerful yet haunting, icy closer.
Upon The Edge Of Darkness is a superb album. I absolutely love it. Skilfully composed and performed, Lumen Ad Mortem hasn’t put a note out of place across this release, delivering anthemic Black Metal that, whilst staying true to the ’90s style, has an individuality and a uniquely brutal and emotive beauty of its own.
Available as a CD, limited edition black or Gold Smoke Vinyl, cassette or digital download from https://bitterlossrecords-au.bandcamp.com/album/upon-the-edge-of-darkness.