Saedus Darknight - _Empty_
(SCT Records, 2008)
by: S. Martin (6 out of 10)
Production value can make or break a release, or a band as a whole in some cases. Some music is to be lo-fi, for example raw black metal or old-school death metal. It gives off a certain vibe and atmosphere to the music. But some music, such is the case with minimal drone, doom and atmospheric black metal, really needs to be top notch. Unfortunately, Saedus Darknight adheres to the latter. While it is an attempt at chaotic, raw black metal, there's too much going on at any given moment for it to make do with a low quality production value. It needs a high-end production for it to shine through -- though, in many cases, small-time bands or projects can't afford the luxury of crystal clear production.

One major problem I have with the album, which I'm sure some see in a positive light, is the constant barrage of noise; there's always too much happening. The highly diverse bass seems to dominate most of this release, however some songs sound as if they've been recorded at different times and on different equipment and programs and so on, so the quality, mixing and production values all vary. However, back to the main point: the constant happenings throughout. Beneath the diverse bass and pounding kick drum is a chaotic (in every sense of the word) drum program and quite uninspired riffs, to be brutally honest. Still, _Empty_ is Saedus' first full-length release and he's done a hell of a job overall, not to mention it's one of the very few bands to represent the extreme side of the Hong Kong music scene -- or lack thereof, perhaps.

The execution of the aforementioned seemingly disjointed aspects to Saedus Darknight are what give the release its kick. The lo-fi riffs don't really exhibit anything overly innovative, the riffs themselves are bland and the tone is thin, though I guess they do keep everything together. The main problem they cause is when there's long guitar and drum interludes, like in "Limbs of Trees", it begins to just turn into this mess of static noise, which really irritates the ears. All of this along with the vocals, which -- believe it or not -- are well executed grunts, growls and pig-squeals, create quite the oddity. I'm going to assume the vocals are a result of Saedus' other band Aortic Regurgitation; although I haven't heard them, they give off that kind of grind vibe, don't you think?

I can see this band getting somewhere. The music as a whole is quite unique, and could possibly be summed up as 'grinding black metal'. It's quite diverse in the sense that some songs are complete and utter black metal, featuring lengthy, slow riffs, while other songs are quite fast-paced with many riffs and vocal changes in such a short time. The only thing holding this band back is production. That and a drum kit, or at least improve on the drum-machine he's got.


(article published 3/9/2009)

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