Jeremy Cavan began The Long Dark Road immediately upon hearing Deafheaven‘s Sunbather for the first time. From that alone, a swath of listeners will probably have opinions and preconceptions about what TLDR is about. Some of them, indeed, prove totally correct; The Long Dark Road is absolutely a blackgaze-oriented band in the vein of Deafheaven and Bosse-de-Nage. The definition doesn’t end there, however. For a popular style that completely goes against what black metal originally signified, it’s surprising more bands like TLDR don’t take to a more adventurous mindset. In this, Cavan has forged a notable exception to that rule.
This eclectic take on Deafheaven conventions goes all over the place, verging on the avant-garde more than once. The EP comes off sounding like a mess considering how many things it tries to be at once, but as messes go, this is one of the more interesting I’ve heard in some time. Drawing in various subsets across the black metal, post-hardcore and prog metal spectrums, I was actually incredibly curious to hear what their next album will sound like before this self-titled debut had even finished the first time. The Long Dark Road sounds like a dumping ground for all of the coolest sounding ideas the band could muster, without worrying too much in terms of identity. A second album would certainly greater a stronger coherence to the work. That’s the one thing the EP desperately needed.
Everything else in the EP runs a spectrum between being promisingly fascinating and flat-out awesome. As I said, there are few blackgaze bands that mess with the conventions of genre so much as TLDR. The shifts between tone or genre are often graceless, but the ideas themselves are most often great for what they are. Whether as a Deafheaven clone, a screeching post-hardcore act or a strange avant-garde aside, TLDR really know what they’re doing. Taking after the loose-wired hardcore approach of Bosse-de-Nage (the genre’s best, in my opinion) moreso than anything else, this band’s production and song structuring has a ways to go, but this EP shows promise more than anything, and for a band that’s virtually hot off the presses, promise and hype are some of the most valuable commodities around.