- Óscar Martín (Nightmarer) – Guitar/Vocals
- Jesús “Strudle” Villalba (Strudle el albino) – Violin
- José Yuste (Yuste)- Bass
- Pablo Parejo (Paraplexus) – Drums
- Daniel Maqueda (MacEdda) – Keyboards
4. As Fire Swept Clean The Earth (Enslaved cover)
Nearly ten years on from its original release Spanish avant-garde black metallers As Light Dies have dusted down and remixed a new version of their debut EP Gea. Which has raised all kinds of confusion with their website stating it was never released (which is interesting) and the accompanying marketing spiel saying it was (which is less so). I guess stop us if you’ve heard this before. Or don’t because this is the new, better version.
Of course only two members of the band’s original line-up remain (Óscar Martín and Jesús “Strudle” Villalba), but ain’t that always the way. Likewise, thinking of yourself as avant-garde is almost always utterly misguided. But anywho, this shiny new edition was remixed by As Light Dies very own Óscar Martín and mastered by Phlegeton (Wrong, Wormed). Oh and there’s a cover version of Enslaved’s ‘As Fire Swept Clean The Earth’, which was originally recorded for something else. So basically you’re not getting anything brand new here.
Things start off oh-so-gentle with lovely instrumental number ‘Terra’ which invokes an outsidey, nature, wilderness feel, but it’s ‘Gea’ itself that is the real meat of this release. At over eight minutes long, it’s an unhurried trip, but this has purpose, direction, it’s not a ramble. The violin is lifting, whilst the bass keeps everything anchored, and the high-pitched vocals makes this all just lovely. At first the arrival of the growly black metal vocals is jarring, but they bridge the music’s move to something more urgent splendidly. We have to admit that Martin’s sung vocals are more attractive though.
‘Gaia’ switches back to high beauty, before As Light Dies does things to Enslaved that you may not have been expecting. Starting off with a fairly ‘straight’ cover, As Light Dies changes up the details to make something quite different, violin sawing away in the background, jazzier elements mixing in with sudden heavier breakaways. It doesn’t initially jump out as a cover, but it’s also probably the best track Gea throws out, which maybe says a lot about the source material.
Hearing the roots of a band is always an interesting, but also a slightly odd experience. A band grows with every year, every release, so bringing focus to their more youthful offerings doesn’t always reflect well. In As Light Dies’ case, Gea is a fond look back, one that shows a band finding their path and hitting upon some important, defining stuff along the way. Worth an explore.