Levels of Abandonment- “Levels of Abandonment”

Levels of Abandonment

Toronto black metal act Levels of Abandonment is the endeavor of one man, J. Gering. This project blends melodic leads with bleak, depressive black metal, all while retaining an overall crisp production that still bleeds at the edges.  Levels of Abandonment’s self-titled debut has been rotating in and out of my playlist for a number of weeks now and I still find myself having difficulty describing the experience.

While some depressing black metal acts would conjure self-harm or other cliches, this feels more akin to being a prisoner of one’s own emotions. There isn’t necessarily dangerous intention so much as pain and a desire for release. Take opening track “Remnants,” for example. It starts at a crawl, only to launch into pained and ferocious black metal that gives way to a guitar solo, of all things. Instead of flowery absurdity, however, the clean lead feels cathartic and wholly appropriate in a genre where such things are far from commonplace. In a way, I can feel this building on a framework set forth by acts like Shining, yet it avoids the bland gimmick of suicidal melodrama while still conveying a depressing and tortured atmosphere. Gering’s main instrument seems to be the drums, which is probably why they are so expressive on this release. Rather than merely setting a backdrop, every cymbal crash and every shift of pace is deliberate and actually acts as part of the greater tapestry of this work. A strength of this album, too, is its relatively short length. I find music this emotionally dense can be overwhelming when it passes forty-five minutes or so. With only a half an hour of music, Levels of Abandonment is a release that is able to cut cleanly and quickly, leaving its mark without becoming an unwelcome burden. Additionally, instrumental closer “Deep in the Low Light” serves as a balm of sorts, allowing the listener to begin processing the experience as the album works its way out of existence.

While these four tracks serve as a fine debut, I can only hope that this is the first of a prolific career for Gering and Levels of Abandonment, as this has potential to convince me that depressive black metal is a genre worth taking seriously. Grab this download from the Levels of Abandonment bandcamp for only $3 and help contribute to future quality releases.