Nearly two months ago, Emanations, a sub-labels of Les Acteurs de l'Ombre Productions, released the first album of the French one-man band Time Lurker, a band operating in atmospheric terrains associated with black landscapes. Mick is from Strasbourg, on the border of Germany, and has no known story. He first appeared on the radar when the band was established in 2014, and released EP and single last year. He seems to do everything himself, impressive enough. Nevertheless, the music leaves me somewhat ambivalent.
Returning readers may very well have observed that the atmospheric offspring of black metal isn't necessarily my biggest passion. There are, however, examples of the genre done right, although there are also numerous generic examples of mediocre, cliché-filled assembly line products out there.
Time Lurker shows time and again the ability to create good arrangements and of partly impressive instrumentation from a lone man with almost zero merits to show for. Various guitar tracks dance together in the moonlit night, and the drums are performed with good diversity. Among the monotonous aspects that automatically seem to cling on to any atmospheric sub-genre, the vocals points out. It's often located in the background, bellowing like a moose shot and wounded by a stray bullet. It almost becomes a bit over-dramatized, but it still works with the existing melancholic mood.
The music is atmospheric, and although there's plenty of intensity, the structure feels comfortable floating and relaxing. Soaring extremity and calm sequences waving like leaves in gentle breeze, blend seamlessly. The songs are cut from the same cloth - not that there's anything wrong with that - but Mick nevertheless gives the different songs some individual identity, preventing every trace from feeling like a random ladle poured from the same stew.
The album (not unexpectedly) contains a post-metallic sense of monotony, something that can easily cause some impatience with me during the daytime in particular, but there's no stagnancy or repetitiveness to speak of. Some passages are more prone toward these underlying post-monotonous properties, something that creates a certain caviled objection, but overall, transitions and changes occur too frequently for this to become an issue.
After a couple of spins with an attemptive - yet tentatively - open mind, the presence of scepticism was still imminent. Time may not heal all wounds, but it breaks down the defence so that the music must surrender and let go of its secrets. Not all metal has a whole lot hidden behind its armour, but Time Lurker must have something, for the album grows when the barrier crumbles and give way to the march of time.
The album is otherwise what I think of as an evening-album; An album that works best when darkness falls and a sensation of peacefulness finally settles, and body and mind calm down and relax after a day's activities. For quite some time, I was determined to give a score of 3 points, as this can both be heard and ignored. Few would miss out on all that much in a world that spew out more music than can be devoured.
I won't recommend Time Lurker to just about anyone, and especially not to fans of true black metal, but I recommend fans of atmospheric black metal to give the album a few spins, or preferably more. Time Lurker's debut is quite likely among the better that a semi-monotonous genre, marked by moods reflecting a woodland scenery, has to offer. Rating: 4-