Blackness and White Light
A home grown effort that was long overdue
Originally 'Blackness and White Light' was conceived in 2003 but it took seven long years for it finally to come to fruition. However, upon first listen some fans may wonder how an album so simple and folkish could take so long to be created? Rusty Pacemaker is a one man band who merges progressive metal with folk rock and a bit of doom metal for a hypnotic and peaceful release. Sometimes the album is strangely acoustic and other times just features crashing, churning guitars that might resemble something more along the lines of funeral doom without the vocals. However, from the way that Rusty orchestrated the music to go along with his soft voice, it is clear that this was meant to be a quiet album. Rusty has one of those droning, monotonous vocals that are heard best on tracks like "Blackness and White" with the percussion and plinking guitars supporting his low tones, making it perfect for atmospheric rock (he even includes some xylophone) as opposed to something like "Cell" where they are barely audible, making it a strain to hear.
Mostly when Rusty isn't singing the music switches between heavy, chugging post rock riffs and softer acoustic passages such as on "My Last Goodbye" or progressive, folksy pieces like "My Way" which keeps the atmospheric part of the music, much like a less darker Agalloch would. Rusty also employs a female guest vocal addition on the track "Amok" and "Mother”. However, she has the same issue as Rusty does with a flat, under-produced voice that when layered on top of each other still doesn't really add enough audible power and during the heavier sections of the music is completely washed away. However, she is still a nice addition for atmosphere and doesn't ruin the music at all, but to remove her from the equation probably wouldn't make the song any better or worse either. On "Mother" the vocalist seems to be even stronger without Rusty singing with her (or growling, as he tends to do in short barks at times), so perhaps the vocal production isn't all for a loss. Even Rusty's vocals seem louder here, but the way he structures his voice around the song makes it seem like a creepy, sing-along song with heavy metal guitars attached to it.
Still, Rusty's debut stands a strong experimental metal piece for those who like atmospheric rock along the lines of bands such as Katatonia or Agalloch. The variety of folk elements from acoustic guitar to piano and percussion make for an interesting album, but at the same time it is all very simple and often repetitive and predictable. This isn't exactly an album to rock out or feel energized to rather than just sit back and contemplate on. Even though there are heavy parts strewn throughout the songs, the music here is clearly more meditative than head-bang worthy. To have one individual do all those work over a seven year span requires a lot of dedication and thought, and to have the final result be as emotionally heavy as it is requires commendable appreciation. It may be a bit difficult to hear, but 'Black And White Light' is a dichotomy that deserves a spin or two.