Written by Kep
>A Rose Dying in the Rain / Moongazer – sky of fading lights
>Post-black metal / blackgaze from Mexico / US
>Released June 24, 2022
There’s this cool thing that happens with splits sometimes, when two outfits come together to create something that’s remarkably unified in vision and matched perfectly in sound. There are tons of “our label had us do this” or “we just wanted to get some tracks out there” splits with two or more bands sort of tossed together, fit be damned, so it’s always a special listen when a split really works as a full piece of music despite being made by separate entities. You see where I’m going with this, yeah?
A Rose Dying in the Rain and Moongazer, kindred spirit DIY solo projects out of Mexico and the US respectively, have put together what can only be described as an achingly beautiful and deeply personal split with sky of fading lights. It’s a straightforward effort with each band contributing one devastating track, and it runs a bit less than 25 minutes, but there’s an eon’s worth of sadness and regret packed into that relatively short listen. Both projects bring a thick, permeating aura of despondency, and though their approaches are a bit different, the two fit together about as well as any two bands could. They’re made for each other.
There’s a wonderful cohesiveness of mood, perhaps best indicated by the ambient rain sound effects that play over the openings of both tracks (which, when I mentioned it in passing to Moongazer, he told me wasn’t even intentional, it just happened, and again I say these projects are made for each other). Both songs have melancholy openings, calm and introspective with bittersweet melodies, that eventually lead to a main body of synths and buzzy guitar that moves deliberately, never fast or slow, just walking along in sadness. Beyond that the song structures are different, the lengths are quite different, and the artists take different stylistic tacks, but the similar elements are more than enough to tie the two together in a memorable way.
“etérea”, the post-black offering of A Rose Dying in the Rain that clocks in at about 8 1/2 minutes, is a subtly growing build that progresses oh-so-gradually to a final arrival. After the intro, once the main body of the track begins and the core musical idea is established, the majority of the material is just repetition, but it’s never completely static. Instead there are waves of emotion that roll and ebb, with nearly imperceptible changes that give life to something that’s quite simple on the surface. It’s tragically gorgeous stuff, led by synths with guitars in a support role while the anguished vocals are sunk deep into the texture, their tone hinting at DSBM without ever quite going all the way to it. The song weeps incessantly, intensity slowly building to the last minute or so, and then it’s like coming up to the top of a hill with a rain-drenched forest and the first light of dawn spread beneath. A couple syncopated drum rhythms and a fresh melody effectively inject a little bit of energy and a tiny bit of hope into the expansive sorrow. The track’s well-designed progression makes the listen fly by every time.
The remaining 16+ minutes of sky of fading lights lie in Moongazer’s “when rain touched your face”, a blackgaze-y long form exploration of beauty and sadness. While A Rose Dying’s offering is an exercise in slowly rolling waves, Moongazer’s is made up of higher peaks and lower valleys, tender moments of echo-drenched melody juxtaposed against cord-tearing misery screams and heartbreakingly sweet synths facing down towering walls of distorted guitars. There’s a wide range of sounds and textures, from the space-filled mix and dulcet melody in watery guitar of the opening to the soaring tremolo lines above thick driving chords in the coda. Sometimes Moongazer croons in disarmingly heartsick clean vocals that feel designed to pull you in close, and then he wrenches the heart out of your body as he suddenly jumps to impressive high screams over blasts. There’s something very spacious about “when rain touched your face”, and not just in the track’s length; it’s like looking in the mirrored surface of a lake at a scene beneath it, poignant and intimate but not near enough to touch. There are moments of calm, moments of reflection, moments of tears, and moments of frightening grief, but my favorite part of the entire split happens about 7 1/2 minutes in: out of the respite that follows the first big section of the song comes a synth melody that can only be described as radiantly bittersweet, an innocent light in the dusk, attempting to uplift.
THE BOTTOM LINE
This humbly self-produced offering of two very personal DIY projects is an exploration of sorrow and depression that’s worth getting lost in. My advice? Set aside half an hour this Friday, close the blinds and then close your eyes too, and allow your broken heart to drift for but a little while with sky of fading lights.