When you peel back the mask of civilisation, all that remains is darkness – something brooding black metallers Advent Sorrow are almost too painfully aware of. With a highly original style that balances symphonic, oppressive chords with strangulated, retching vocals and raging riffs that fall as heavy as mourning veils, Advent Sorrow’s stifling streams of sonic suffering capture the emptiness and despair at the heart of the human experience. The result is an unflinching dissection of the internal agonies of the psyche that is both suicide-inducing and unnervingly seductive.
Having just completed a successful European tour which included a stirring set at Incineration Fest in London, these six Australians’ deeply affecting stage shows are earning them an increasingly avid fanbase that is growing with cult-like momentum. Dark Matter caught up with lead vocalist Rhys King, fresh from writhing about in the thick smoke of Camden’s Underworld stage like some otherworldly nether-demon, for an illuminating tete-a-tete concerning what the band refer to as their ‘torturous black metal’. Keen to correct any misconceptions fans or critics may have about their smothering soundscapes, Rhys is disarmingly candid about the band’s intentions. ‘We have been referred to as Depressive Suicidal Black Metal (DSBM) a number of times and I feel as though this is not an accurate description. The music is no pain relief or some form of comfort. My aim is to be honest and sincere in the music I create and the ideologies expressed. The music is dark, violent, repulsive and alluring.’
Formed in 2009, it took the group a few years to settle on a direction and cement their current line-up. Their 2012 single release 'Before the Dimming Light', with its lurching piano and demonic shrieks was more akin to the dramatic, gothic sensibilities of bands such as Dimmu Borgir and Cradle of Filth than the distinct, desolate style they’re fast becoming renowned for – which only really came to fruition with their second release and first full length, 2015’s 'As All Light Leaves Her'. As Rhys explains, ‘For this album I took my song writing in a darker and more atmospheric direction, and it led to a more depressive and suffocating overall sound.’ Their latest release, 'Kali Yuga Crown', has been three years in the making, but worth every arduous skilful second spent on its creation. While 'As all Light Leaves Her' plays on more melodic elements, balancing crawling riffs and shattering instrumentals with moments of deepening poignancy, 'Kali Yuga Crown' has a much more potent, feral wildness to it, calling to mind Shining’s wailing, self-destructive epiphanies of hopelessness. As Rhys comments of this latest opus of raw feeling, ‘You can expect a more violent and intimidating feel to the atmosphere in the music. It is varied and explosive.’
Indeed, the band strive to ensure all their tracks have a different flavour of darkness, each a unique and perfectly formed drop of thoughtfully crafted, jet-black perfection. Rhys says, ‘The albums are and will be dynamic and the styles will always be subject to fluctuation. I create the music that comes at that time. I avoid following the same structure in song writing between albums and change the environment that I write the songs so that the influences are varied.’ And Rhys is fully open to collaboration with other band members, leading to even richer tapestries of choking emotional intensity. ‘In addition to this, two songs from 'Kali Yuga Crown' have been written by our guitarist H.R. Segovia (Spearhead and Death in Magic Antagonism) and this has added to the variety in sound.’
Like many black metal bands, Advent Sorrow desire to shock us out of complacency. However, the band eschew the traditional preoccupations of the genre, leaning more towards the progressive, almost post-apocalyptic side of this most troubled of musical movements. ‘We are not a religious or political band and I find inspiration in the state of the modern world; whether it be the unending suffering inflicted by humans against nature or a personal desire for the modern world to collapse. Satanism has no relevance to me.’ In fact, when citing the influences on his music, Rhys ignores the big hitters of the metal world and names a couple of surprising choices: ‘Eddie Murphy - 'Party All the Time' and classic Australian anthems such as Jimmy Barnes - 'Working Class Man'.’ This open-minded approach works well, with the edgy blues and soulful passion of Barnes very much in evidence in Rhys own heart-rending vocals. Yet Rhys’ most significant source of inspiration is perhaps nature itself; he loves to get away from it all and escape to the mountains.
As for what’s next for the band, Rhys muses enigmatically, ‘We will see what the future brings.’ Here’s hoping that Rhys and co continue to tour and write new music, providing plenty of opportunities for lovers of asphyxiating metal to stretch themselves out on Advent Sorrow’s tormented, anguish-laden rack.