Depressive Black Metal bands are a dime a dozen. Ever since artists like Judas Iscariot, Leviathan, and Xasthur broke out onto the scene there have been hundreds of solo artists or groups that have donned the corpsepaint, practiced their howling vocals, and tried to create a slow churn, chilling atmosphere that is hazy, epic, and a nightmare to listen to. Some have had more success than others, but that is because they broke from the typical formula. Others have come across a cheap knock offs that overdo it. 2021’s Signs of the Dying Summer might seem like a knock off, aiming for a depressing band name and having all the other pieces in place, but this Polish debut album, entitled ‘Oto Jest Pustka’, (which translates to ‘This Is Emptiness’ which again heaps on the depression and nihilistic feeling even more) actually has some solid sound to it. A three piece rather than a solo act, the music is a bit more polished and doesn’t feel like the same few riffs drawn out over and over for 10 minutes with backing keyboards behind it. The album is broken into 6 parts, each sounding pretty similar, which is standard for the Depressive Black Metal genre. Expect minimalistic rawness here with some flux of keyboards, but not a lot. The closest comparison can be considered Finland’s Mortualia for its songwriting and vocal style.
The Judas Iscariot influences are there for the raw parts with the riffs and this hissed/snarled vocals that are a little pushed back, but as one delves into parts III and onward, there is almost a bit of upbeat melody to the music, much in the way that Ghostbath did on their album ‘Moonlover’. It is infectiously catchy, and adds more than just that typical ‘haze of fog’ style that groups like Moon are famous for when trying to imitate Xasthur. The drumming, done by Uhu, is programmed, so don’t expect that live variety that is heard on a Leviathan album. The riffs by Sadogoat are morose but not overplayed or boring. Tracks like ‘I’ have that ferocious vibe to them with the typical Black Metal speed while ‘IV’ has a lot more that upbeat tone, which might be contrasting to the depressing side of the music, but for those not used to the levels of morose in the genre might find it a bit more accessible. Vocals are very typical with that distorted hiss to them, but not as anguished like from Ghost Bath or distorted like Xasthur. They do convey a lot of pain and emotion though which suits the genre well enough.
The album does go by quick for six tracks, which is a little bit of a betrayal for the genre because Depressive Black Metal is usually known to clock anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour, but Signs of the Dying Summer is a good nihilistic run for Depressive Black Metal fans who enjoy their music grim but not overwhelmingly grim. This isn’t quite fast Judas Iscariot Black Metal, but more the middle of the road pace, which is what some new listeners need every once in a while. The music drudges along but has a bit of a head banging vibe to it versus the trance-like mysticism that a lot of Depressive Black Metal employs. It is basic without the ‘ooooh’ touches of symphonics like Hæresiarchs of Dis performs, but Signs like to keep it simple and minimal, the way Black Metal was originally intended. ‘Oto Jest Pustka’ rides the line between depressive and ‘kvlt,’ but is solid Black Metal for anyone who is a fan of the genre.