Genre: Martial Dark Industrial
The band Penitent will be a familiar name and for many readers who indulge in dark music. Penitent has been successfully delving into the often ignored darker aspects of music and composition since the early 1990's. Penitent has now released their phenomenal seventh studio album in their decade long career. Ever evolving and exploring new dark waters Penitents new album Deserted Dreams is a return to the bands roots with a wink and nod towards today's martial industrial music arena. Deserted Dreams abandons the trail blazed by Penitents previous release Songs of Despair which was inspired by dark wave and metal influence. In the wake of Songs of Despair and Penitent seizes its place in the current martial industrial music arena. Penitent has chosen to blaze forward into the current fever over martial industrial music. Entering the martial industrial music scene successfully is no easy feat with acts such as Sophia, Karjalan Sissit, Predella Avant, and Tordoih already defining and leading the genre forward. The true test for Penitent and Deserted Dreams and is whether it can contend with its predecessors.
Deserted Dreams opens with the song Behind the Mirror. Behind the Mirror is surprisingly devoid of martial drums or other signature martial industrial accents. Instead Behind the Mirror explores dark atmospherics and slow muffled percussion that is much more ambient than one might at first expect from an album titled “Martial Dark Industrial.” The music is amazingly delicate and gentle expressing feeling through restraint and subtlety rather than the full on assault often expected of martial industrial music. Karsten Hamre the man behind Penitent is known for his skill in dark ambient music and on Behind the Mirror this skill is aptly applied.
If there is any doubt as to the martial content of the music song two, Transfiguration, lays all doubts to rest. The song begins with snare drums and some of the most moving and beautiful orchestration I have experienced in this genre. Transfiguration really awakens the listener to what Karsten is striving. This song alone ensures this album is poised to be an enormous contribution to the genre. Rather than pounding the listener into the ground with thundering drums Penitent has created a lighter domain in which martial drums and horns share stage with inspirational atmospherics and orchestral arrangements. The effect is one of delicacy married to martial supremacy. Transfiguration is as epic and powerful as the best Sophia or Tordoih song. I salute Penitent for bringing something original and refreshing into the genre.
The third song on the album is titled Salutations of Our Dreams. Salutations of Our Dreams is much more subdued than the previous track. Karsten focuses upon communicating emotion driven not only by drums but also by uplifting orchestration. Horns and other orchestrations roll out of the speakers with grace and ease. Salutations of Our Dreams is a song of remembrance and hope, things often forgotten in the dark realms of martial industrial music. The deep sentiment and emotional exploration get even deeper in the fourth track titled Beyond the Sun. Beyond the Sun communicates a yearning for release and an exaltation of life through strife. Piano, horns and percussion meld seamlessly in a blissful and epic experience that is unforgettable. Beyond the Sun stirs the very flame of life and love and awakens the soul with an anthem of hope, a dream that fire will return from the ashes of despair. Never before has dark music so successfully narrated the dichotomy of strife, survival, and victory. Beyond the Sun embodies the glory and grief of mans dreams and losses. Karsten has rightfully earned my respect as a master musician.
The fifth track is titled Meeting Our Fate. Meeting Our Fate is a return to the “dark sonorities” that defined the introductory track. Effectively reflective of the name the track is very slow and intentionally crafted. Electronic and orchestral sounds combine in a dark atmospheric narrative. The music inspires the eerie silence of a battleground during the aftermath of battle. Meeting Our Fate is the ultimate in somber ritual ambient music. The song invokes deep feelings of resignation, despair, and reflection. Capturing the dark and the emotional, Penitent is a psychic surgeon of frightening skill and letting Penitent lead you astray on a sonic journey is a unique and rewarding experience. Meeting Our Fate is at once consuming and nourishing as you drink from the dark narrative of Pertinent. The sixth track on the album titled The Resurrection of the Nativity redirects the music away from inspiration and sentiment and straight into ritual industrial music. The Resurrection of the Nativity begins with thundering drums and primitive sounding acoustics and cymbal crashes. The music drives forward with a malignant force that knows no mercy. The song invokes vast armies marching towards their fate across barren and scorched lands. Electronic sounds add a menacing and tense suspension to the music. The Resurrection of the Nativity is Penitent at their fiercest and possibly most forceful performance. If The Resurrection of the Nativity does not get your blood flowing then you might need to check your pulse.
A blessing in the Desert is the seventh song. A blessing in the Desert is the wake after the storm. Once again gears shift and the music returns to the subdued and mournful. In the settling of the dust and the drying of blood their remains regret and truth. Penitent is phenomenal in driving the steak through our collective heart and slowly bleeding our every last emotion. The music of Penitent stirs deep within our collective subconscious and awakens memories of war, nationalism, glory, and shame. The eighth song titled The Final Decisions continues to stir the devouring winds of personal and collective demons. Snare drums and dismal orchestrations flesh out another track of opposing emotion and conflicting sentiments. Once again Penitent invokes the sacral and the profane in a unifying gesture that is moving and sober. Abandoned is the ninth track featured on Deserted Dreams. Abandoned is very reflective of its name as piano wanders remotely through vague and shadowy soundscapes that gasp in the darkness as if lost and alone. Orchestral strings and wind are your only companions in this sad narrative when the piano loses you in the dark. Epitaph for the Lost Ones effectively concludes the album with a dark ritual martial industrial composition that thunders through the speakers and listener alike. In honor of the “Lost Ones” Karsten delivers a superb song driven by pounding drums and balanced dark ambient atmospherics. Epitaph for the Lost Ones combines darkness and force into a powerhouse of rhythmic pulsating martial euphoria not to be missed.
Penitent - Deserted Dreams is a highly recommended for all faeries that have an established interest in martial, dark ambient or dark electronic music. Needless to say faeries that enjoy bands such as Sophia, DIJ, Tordoih, Predella Avant, Regarde Extreme and Karjalan Sissit and the like will find Penitent to be a very welcomed new member to the collective dark music family. Radial Faeries that remain unfamiliar with the mentioned genres but enjoy ambient, classical, or neoclassical music might try out Penitent. It is obvious that the artist is working with very emotional and often dark compositions so those Faeries that feel easily violated by dark feelings should steer clear.
Penitent - Deserted Dreams has enormous possibilities for personal ritual or spiritual practices. The music is very emotional and either very somber or exalting. With varying emotions coursing through the music and very epic music delivery the music would be well fitted for invocations to the likes of Hel, Mars, Thor, or Vulcan. Meditation and trance as well as visualization could readily be motivated and or guided by this marvelous album. Faeries planning on using Deserted Dreams for ritual purposes should be sure they can navigate all the possible emotions and visions that might be incurred.