Depressive black metal has always been somewhat of a little discussed sub genre within extreme metal, though it may be one of the most powerful and relentless. Take the Illinois-based Sadness; created and comprised of multi-instrumentalist Elisa (real name Damián Antón Ojeda), the project has flourished dramatically since its 2014 debut release, Close . Since then, the outfit has heralded an incredible total of 13 full-length releases, with the latest, Rain , dropping on March 10, 2019. We gave Rain a shot to see how Elisa has developed Sadness further since the 2017 EP, Sun Into Water.
The record opens with “Lay” - a sombre piano introduction alongside the pattering of rain, setting the tone and title for the record immediately. It feels a little stretched out, but eventually subsides and is replaced with an aggressive drum opening and an almost mystical background noise. “Pure Dream” follows and offers a relatively similar sound, featuring little dips into post-rock progressive territory, which works very well in this melancholic cacophony. It has to be said, though, that 16 minutes on two tracks which don’t offer a whole lot to the record dampens Rain’s effects somewhat
Rain picks itself up in “Absolution”. Elisa has diverted somewhat from the dominant outbursts of metal which were presented through earlier Sadness releases, and has opted for a more introspective, exploratory and melancholic sound in Rain. Each track is cathartic and has a post-black metal and shoe-gaze vibe somewhere along the lines, in places reminiscent of late Lantlôs. It works. The music is more journey-like than that of previous releases, which opted for a more brutal outlash of emotion, and Elisa is excellent at doing this. There’s an almost fantastical feeling resonating throughout the middle section of the record, especially in “River”’s intro before exploding into blast beats, Elisa’s screams, and frantic riffs. Just as quickly as this change occurs, Elisa shifts to a softer style once more, acting as a dip in the emotional roller-coaster that Rain is shaping up to be.
Kicking off with the opener “Lay”, stream the full album here.
Rain brings a lot of emotion to the forefront upon listening, with the closer “Teal” arguably being the most impactful track of the record. The gentleness of the previous songs are a total contrast to the depressive leviathan which sends the album off - simultaneously melancholic, peaceful, yet soul-wrenching. It’s tracks such as this that demonstrate why Elisa, and Sadness itself, are so prominent in DSBM. Pain-filled wails permeate through the track, and a soft underplay of the record’s production make for that classic, intentionally raw and disconnected feel which works so well for the genre. It makes one think of standing in the rain, contemplating every facet of life and finding some melancholic comfort of the self. It’s powerful stuff, and Elisa has developed into a musician capable of exhibiting many emotions through a variety of sounds, be it sombre and subtle post-rock/instrumentals, or grandiose black metal.
You can hear Elisa’s progression with every Sadness release, however it seems more prominent in Rain. More thought has been put into the record and the overall quality is higher than that of previous releases. Alongside Elisa’s exhibition of a multitude of styles, the listener equally goes on a cathartic roller coaster of an emotional journey, exploring loneliness, sadness (obviously), and self-exploration. The first couple of songs may not be the most compelling, but what lies thereafter packs a hefty emotional punch. What is certain about Sadness is the sheer dedication to the subgenre which cements Elisa as one of the hardest working musicians in DSBM. Absolutely an artist anyone interested in depressive black metal should listen to.
Rain Track Listing:
02. Pure Dream
Run Time: 52:58 Release Date: March 10, 2019 Record Label: Flowing Downward Records