Destroyer of Light put focus on people’s responses to disasters on diverse, mind-numbing ‘Panic’

At the risk of making longtime readers roll their eyes out of their skull, yes, we’re doing the pandemic opening again. But hold on! There’s good reason for it. That period of time had a horrible impact on a lot of people’s mental health, mine included. The news cycle was relentless, and having a new virus we knew little about creating havoc and taking lives was a lot to handle, and it’s not over.

On Destroyer of Light’s incredible new record “Panic,” the timeframe once again rears its head, reminding us of all the ways we lost ourselves trying to mentally deal with something unknown. But this record doesn’t just touch on that topic as the band also visits subjects such as natural disasters and other upheavals that have us losing our fucking shit trying to figure out how to deal with the aftermath. That period of freakout inspired the band—vocalist/guitarist Steve Colca, guitarist Keegan Kjeldsen, bassist Mike Swarbrick, drummer Kelly Turner—to create these seven tracks that are some of the richest, most diverse of their entire run. It’s a great doom record for sure, but there’s so much more packed into this thing that deviates from their previous four albums (killers them all) but also ties them all together, creating even more room for creativity.

“Darkshimmer” opens as a siren and sinks right into a heavy doom riff, and then the singing swells with shrieks mixing in and adding the thorns. The power mauls as the leads soar, bringing a psychedelic edge as the growls smear blood, the singing swings back, and the energy finally fades out. “Contagion” might hit a little too close to home for those still psychologically impacted by the pandemic, the sludge thickening and chugging. Ominous singing stings the ears, and the chorus, while incredibly dark, also pushes you to the emotional brink. The guitar work continues to pay off the hopelessness, the playing takes off, and the growls smear as the soot hangs in the air. “The Midnight Sun” opens with a clip from “The Twilight Zone” episode from 1961 of the same name as the song. The riffs are catchy as hell and the singing gets you, pushing the gas pedal and increasing the steam. Later, there’s a slow-driving force that brings a psyche haze as everything glimmers and scorches to the end.

“Before You Die” delivers a swarm of guitars as a slow, plodding pace takes over, a shadowy vibe spilling into a hypnotic pall, the guitars washing over everything. The playing drubs as everything slowly spirals, the darkness increases, and the guitars set the scene ablaze. “Cold Air I” dawns with atmospheric guitars and a spacious energy, the singing pushing you to your will. Melodic leads and a warm bath of emotion floods, the electricity stretching until strange bubbling rushes to the surface. “Cold Air II” starts with acoustics and washed-out singing, a synth haze buzzing overhead like an alien ship. The cosmic essence gets thicker, beams of light tear through the night, and somber storming pulls to the finish line. Closer “Nightmares Come True” opens and immediately boils, the vocals taking to the air as the guitars rise with everything. A strong chorus utterly rips, and sludgy punching takes its toll, Colca calling, “Search for the truth, feed the lies, your mind destroys you,” a true dagger to finish this killer collection.

Who amongst us hasn’t felt complete and total desperation the past few years alone? Destroyer of Light calling this record “Panic” is a perfect move, encapsulating not only how we’ve felt during a health crisis but the way people react to natural disaster and events we have no hope of controlling. This not only is a step ahead for the band musically, but it’s also a thought-provoking collection of songs loosely stitched together by the concept of losing your total fucking mind.

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