About nine years ago, two friends joined forces under the banner of Lichtblick. In 2015, founding members M. and A. and newly recruited musicians J. and D. recorded and released their debut, i.e. the independently released EP Feel Free To Lose Your Life. Some line-up changes happened, but with a renewed stable line-up, Lichtblick released their first full-length in 2018. Phrenesis too was independently released by the band itself.
Enter 2021. The Austrian band started writing new material for their second official full-length. In October 2021 the recording sessions started (at the Deep Pressure Studio), and in the meantime, Lichtblick did sign to the roster of the respectful Belgian (Black) Metal label Immortal Frost Productions; any ray of hope will never disappear like snow beneath the sun. That sophomore album, called Abkehr (which is German for ‘renunciation’ or ‘departure’), got pressed on compact-disc, with inclusion of a twelve-page booklet. It is not that strange at all to notice that the stunning artwork was taken care of, once again, by label aficionados WrathDesign (you know, the visual-artistic outfit of The Stone’s Marko ‘Kozeljnik’).
This album consists of six wrathful semi-lengthy tracks that last in between almost six and nine minutes (total running time: nearly forty-three minutes). They stand for an emotive form of Blackgaze / Depressive Black Metal / DSBM (Depressive-Suicidal Black Metal) with quite some elements from Post-Black Metal, and a lot of acoustic parts which bear an outspoken Sad Folk attitude. That in a nutshell…
More general, Abkehr sort of interacts in between (semi) acoustic passages with a melancholic and nostalgic atmosphere, and heavier excerpts, which are quite doomed in nature. It brings sorrowful melodies, with intrigue and depth, created by mesmerizing guitar-lines in the first place (this also goes for those acoustics). These get accompanied by a very supportive rhythm section, with down-tuned basses and almost progressive drum patterns (attention: the most intense pieces often come with erupting, little mechanical-sounding battery-salvos via well-balanced double bass and merciless cymbal molestation), reminding me of some Shoegaze-injected dream (?).
The vocals are of the painful, wretched, morose kind, wailing and lamenting, yet with an inherent and obvious exasperation and bitterness too. Desperation versus hatred, frustration versus iniquity; the message trespasses the concept of suicide-promotion (often coming with those high-pitched shrieks, yet not in this band’s case), going for both the screams and the rather ‘clean’ voices. It bears the concept of (self) affliction and grief; it even trespasses the borders of ‘traditional’ and contemporary self-pity by mingling lethargic riffage organically with addictive sound-textures, avoiding ridiculous complexity, yet still carrying a delight of timeless song-writing. On top of it, both instrumentation and vocals are decently produced, with a mix that pays attention to each individual aspects yet seen as part of the whole thing.
For fans of (and I’m going the open-minded way) everything in between Uten Håp, Left Alone…, The Depressick, Lifeless and the likes…
The distant spot of light at the end of the tunnel will be your destiny, the portal to the next level, after the only truth or certainty, which is death, guides you towards the end. Abkehr is this journey’s soundtrack…