Leave it to a band called The Long Dark Road to not want to tread on a well-worn path. But that’s exactly what deterred the band’s mastermind Jeremy Cavan from taking the safe path through the deep, dark forests of black metal. Not wanting to do another by-the-numbers black metal group, Cavan’s interest in the genre was reignited upon hearing “blackgaze” band Deafheaven. So, instead of joining the caravan of bands on the path, Cavan instead sought the blurred boundaries of black metal…and then crossed them. The result are the 4 expansive tracks that make up The Long Dark Road’s self-titled debut full length.
The band manage to merge logic and emotion to stunning effect, incorporating a diverse array of influences. Hell, lead off track “The Tragedy of the Commons” even sounds a bit like a metal version of Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight” for a second. But all of the songs manage to cover an immense amount of ground, forming self-contained journeys that betray the progressive influence. The result doesn’t sound like a noodle math equation in sonic form but rather a sprawling piece of aghast melodic metal.
The vocals are just as diverse. “I Will Follow” switches off between moments of hardcore rage and classic metal vocal melody, developing nicely over the course of the song. Ominous bass lines and chugging drum beats give way to pastoral, reflective moments highlighting the diversity of the band. In fact, it seems the only thing you can count on when immersing yourself in this record is that change is coming. “The State of Our Union” even manages to incorporate some jazz beats amidst progressively shredded guitars and a guttural bass groove.
While The Long Dark Road seem to be discerning about what influences they lob into the shredder, there are still a lot of sonic surprises over the course of the record. In this way, the album works to not lose you in tangents but rather to keep you guided on a tour of the outer reaches of black metal.