I’ve been sitting on the first Westering album, Help a Body, for a while now. Probably because I approach highly ambient music with a bit of trepidation. Ambient music is not really my cup of tea. I find nothing wrong with it and the fault is probably on my end for not really trying to dive into it more. Typically, it reminds me of soundtracks or scores and I’ve never been one to get into those either as it’s easy for me to tune those out or forget I was listening to them.

Well my buddy Ben shared with me Westering’s second album Joy recently so that tells me there’s something there that needs to be heard so I’m just going in full hog on the only two releases from this project.

Now I’m used to black metal bands incorporating ambient soundscapes into their style. It’s not uncommon and a lot of some of my more valued albums are highly ambient. Westering I feel tips the scale on ambient black metal well to the ambient side. Certainly there is some black metal on these album and the vocals are particularly nasty and black metal-ish but the focus is the soundscapes, the ambience, if you will. That takes front and center every single time. I particularly enjoy how the guitars are so fuzzed up they almost sound like sound effect all together, which fits in perfectly with all the computer and synthesizer effects. The atmosphere is fairly pained, dissonant and dark, something that the cacophony of sound really elaborates on.

The second album Joy continues much along the same vein albeit with everything turned up a notch. More black metal, more ambient soundscapes, more of everything. Joy is not the immediate impression I get from the music here thought there are some passages and songs that are lighter, or airier, than the previous album which gives off a sense of joy or at least, not dissonance.

For me, these work, despite my shortcomings understanding or appreciating ambient music. I suspect there’s enough here to please fans of both genres and enough to engage fans of only one of these genres. I gravitate to the black metal and heavy aspects of these two albums but the whole package is worth listening too.

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