Molodost - Shades at Salvation Borders EP
Reviewer: Carmina Khairallah - 2012-08-09
Highlights: Most Of The Tracks Are Mediocre
When Raed Abou Saleh, the man behind the Lebanese Ambient Black Metal band Molodost sent me a link to download his debut demo EP (Shades at Salvation Borders), I have to admit that I wasn’t prepared to what actually was inside.
The front cover of the album is simply a picture of a deserted landscape of green grass and grey rocks, mostly dominated by a very cloudy sky, with the name of the band “Molodost” in an intricate, Gothic-like font in big letters at the top, and the name of the album “Shades at Salvation Borders” in the same font lying over the earth part of the landscape. The same picture is used at the back, only with information such as the Track-list, date of release, the location where the cover picture was taken (South Lebanon – 2006) and some information about the album being self produced and released, along with the e-mail address of the musician. The mood that can be emanated from the artwork contains a lot of beautiful dark feelings and tumultuous emptiness, which corresponds to the album’s name but also to the music and lyrics as we will see later on.
When you first start listening to the music, you are immediately stripped of all your conventional ideas regarding what Ambient Black Metal, or any kind of Metal or even music for that matter, consists of. The first song “Thorn of Abandonment” is greatly inspired by Daudi Baldrs, a song by Norwegian Black Metal band Burzum , and the last song “Moti Ragnarokum” is a slightly slower, shorter, darker and much more ambient cover of a song by the same band, but anything else is greatly void of any obvious inspiration, and even the basic pattern of the songs is very different than most of what is heard in the genre.
The quality of the recording is quite bad, but understandable if you consider the conditions of home-recording with not much experience in the music business. If you overcome that, though, what you hear is something unlike anything else you’ve ever heard. Anything else that a conventional, technical review could say about this EP’s music is that there is an obvious talent in the instrument playing, but that one has to decipher the mess that is happening to be able to focus on the songs, of which the unconventional pattern make it hard for the listener to understand anything of what is happening after the first listen. The melodies definitely do not stick inside the mind. Although, as any respectable ambient musician, Raed Abou Saleh adds traces of sound effects such as the scream of crows, the melodic sounds of a forest’s life forms or the roar of angry waters to his tracks, making the listener further merge with the music’s mood. As for the vocals, they are extremely harsh for the most part and quite difficult to understand or even to listen to when one is not familiar with “violent” types of Metal. But it is this harshness that adds a strong impact to the songs’ dark mood, making them strike harder in the listener’s mind. A few, short clean passages in English in the title song “Shades of Salvation Borders” carry a heavy accent, the only thing to truly reveal the musician’s Arab roots, apart from the actual lyrics, sang in both Arabic and English (both languages being actually merged in the song “Walls of the Asylum”), pieces of poetry written by the Artist himself.
After the first listen, the listener has two options: either to give up and forget they’ve ever listened to that EP, or to let go of all of their inhibitions and give it a second try. This time, they should keep the lyrics close to them and simply open their hearts to the feelings hidden inside the tracks. The first thing that the listener would then notice is that the emotional pace of the tracks is heavily lead by the simple percussions on one hand, and the presence or lack of vocals on the second hand, as wherever either or both elements appear, anxiety rules the mind, and any part void of both of them is an oasis of peace and calm for the intellect. The mostly unintelligible lyrics are all ruled by despair and “deplorableness”, written in a complicatedly poetic yet strikingly simple pattern that suits the music perfectly. It takes several more listens to actually grasp the subtle elements that make the whole captivating.
There is nothing more to say about Molodost except that its debut EP is a must listen for anyone who privileges emotions over traditional technicality, if however they do not mind the music being horribly savaged by the recording’s quality. Although it seems obvious that this band’s audience might never be very large, if given the right equipment to record more material it will definitely hold a strong fan base in the Ambient Black Metal scene. Best of luck to Raed Abou Saleh, hoping to hear more from him in the future.