The Smashing Skull Sessions

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A Pregnant Light - Capacity For Living

A couple of weeks ago I clicked on a clip Cvlt Nation posted on one of their socials and what I heard and saw resonated immediately with me. It was a videoclip for the song Eating Emeralds by a band called A Pregnant Light. Now, after weeks of listening to the whole album, I think it was the dualities and intensity that drew me right in. And that after a thirty seconds clip! Before I get deeper into that, let’s get to know more about this band first shall we?

A Pregnant Light (APL) from the US consists of only one man and that is Damian Master. He is and has been in several other bands, hardcore and metal, but started APL in 2010. Thirtheen years later he has released a cargo load on singles, EP’s, splits, compilation albums and full lengths, most of them through his own label called Colloquial Sound Recordings. Too much to name here, just check Metal Archives for a complete list, but the weird and sad fact is I'd never heard of this band or man before. And that’s a shame, because I would have loved to have this music sooner in my life.

In 2022, from January through December, ten new songs were released in two-song single format. Now these songs (including a Nico cover of 1981’s Purple Lips) are remastered and with two additional bonus tracks they are put together on this new (compilation) album called Capacity For Living (CFL). It’s a way of working that the man already had done in 2020, but a bit different. Then a single was released each month and it could only be listened to by dialing a special telephone number. The album in which those twelve songs were compiled from was named Kiss Me Thru The Phone.

Damian Master grew up as a metalpunk, loving punk and hardcore as well as metal in different subgenres between traditional heavy metal and black. These ingredients can be heard back in his music, and then some. In its core, CFL is a (blackened) aggressive album, but with constant shifts and fluent alternations into (traditional metal or post-punk) melody, (hardcore) groove or singalong vocal lines which make this also an addictive catchy, and at times even danceable one (who said metalpunks can’t dance!?). What I think is very cool is that the sound of it all is truly unique. With the combination of his equipment, tuning, different vocal types and mix of musical styles Master creates a true sound of his own. For instance: where most metalbands tune their guitars down, he tunes his up, like in aforementioned Eating Emeralds. Resulting in fast chords and riffs that sound like a long aggressive yet melodic solo. That combined with fast spitting personal lyrics on top in which the vocal sound in that aggressive spitting style reminds me of Chuck (Death/Control Denied) with some Rob Lind (in his Ramallah era) edges and brought with the same soul ripping energy and commitment of Harakiri for the Sky’s singer J.J., hence the feeling of dualities and intensity.

I‘m namedropping a couple of musicians in this review, but that’s only to try to begin describing what I hear in it and what I think the sound is what one could expect while listening to this. And that’s all subjective of course. Just like how music for Damiam Master is an output of how life’s been felt and dealt with at the particular time of writing and recording. He puts his heart and soul in the music and lyrics like there is no other way for him. Like a personal diary or journal. And with that he makes himself vulnerable, especially by bringing it out into the world to be heard. In essence not caring if it will reach one or a million people as long as it resonates somehow. In work ethic (not in sound) somewhat reminding me of what Kenn Nardi (Anacrusis) does on his solo albums (although less productive) and also King Dude’s music. Coming from heavy background with a love for 1980’s post-punk and wave, and turning that into personal-laden songs. Understood, embraced and loved by a select hardcore fanbase in the underground.

A Pregnant Light’s fanbase has been growing, and hopefully after this review, another one or two will join the ranks. I can honestly say I love all of the twelve songs on Capacity For Living, because they are equally strong and each song has something typical in it that stands out. Should I have to name my favourites, gun to head, than I would choose Beast About (that exhilarating!), Eating Emeralds (that line: ”What would you wear to my funeral”), Too Pure (then I swing, then I headbang and scream along), Germanicus (blackened Unto Others and Iron Maiden and 3 Inches of Blood vibe), Threshold Angel (black metal smoothly transitions into a ballad and back again) and last but not least In Gaul (dark danceable ambient wave singalong).

Enough words spent, go check for yourself. Guarenteed yearlist material for me.