Another month on the charts that seemed to be running on fumes.
14. The Kid LAROI – Without You
Another break up song on this month’s list, LAROI comes off as a Justin Bieber clone that likes to curse. But at its core, this is an emo break up song in its most generic form. The song feels like it can’t get out of first gear until about 2 minutes in and there is finally more than an acoustic guitar and a whiny rapper. But even when some drums are finally added, the emotion just isn’t there. It’s a very bad sign when you’re singing a heart-wrenching break up song and it hits with the same emotion of Radio 4’s shipping forecast. The newsreader’s falsetto might be more impressive.
Gaerea is not a band. They are a “Vortex community”, “bestow[ing] their Undying Sigil to the masses”.
For an act that has been around less than 5 years, this black metal quintet from Portugal is certainly making an impact on the global scene. The theatrics create a mystery about the group. Only 3 members of the outfit have been named, the remaining 2 shrouded under a hood bearing the Undying Sigil.
Limbo takes us to Dante’s first circle, the hopeless wasteland where human chattel await their eternal damnation. This imagery is potent throughout the record, starting with the vivid depiction on the cover and continuing seamlessly through the music.
Calling this “black metal” is a bit of a mislead, though. The theatrics and themes aside, the music actually feels more like doom metal, with plenty of sludgy breakdowns, atmospheric bridges, and a sense of guitar melody that you just don’t get with black metal.
Whatever you want to call it, Limbo is relentless. It opens with a powerful overture of a song, “To Ain”, an 11-minute opus that sets the tone, theme, and sound that will occupy your earspace for 52 minutes over 6 tracks. The structure of the album is classical in nature, using movements to walk us through the “new” stages of grief: sadness, denial, anger, madness, and despair. The album closes with “Mare”, a 13-minute monolith that bookends Limbo with that same feeling of being held captive, but with chaos lurking overhead.
I found myself listening with rapt attention. Limbo is an absolute masterpiece and Gaerea has created the perfect soundtrack to 2020. It really feels like we’re in the First Circle, awaiting damnation. I hope they don’t make us wait too long to experience the Second Circle, where we will be blown about in a violent storm without hope of rest.